Technical Reports

Human Factors in Railroad Operations: Communication and Coordination Demands of Railroad Roadway Worker Activities and Implications for New Technology

  • 01
  • Nov
  • 2007
AUTHOR: Emilie Roth and Jordan Multer
OFFICE: RPD
REPORT NUMBER: DOT/FRA/ORD-07/28
KEYWORDS: Cognitive task analysis, communications, decisionmaking, human factors, positive train control
ABSTRACT: This report documents the results of a cognitive task analysis (CTA) that examined the cognitive and collaborative demands and activities of railroad roadway workers. The purpose of the CTA of roadway workers was to understand the factors that complicate performance in today’s environments, as well as the knowledge and skills that roadway workers have developed to cope with the cognitive and collaborative demands placed on them. The results revealed numerous activities that railroad workers engage in that improve overall efficiency of railroad operations and enhance roadway worker safety on and around the track. These include cooperative activities within and across crafts, including dispatchers, train crews, and roadway workers. Some of these activities are codified in formal operating rules. Others have developed informally. The results point to the potential benefits of introducing portable digital communication systems with global positioning system capabilities and suggest specific design recommendations. The results also suggest potential benefits of implementing positive train control systems for enhancing roadway worker safety.
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