Technical Reports

Relative Risk of Workload Transitions in Positive Train Control

  • 31
  • Mar
  • 2007
AUTHOR: John Wreathall, David D. Woods, Alan J. Bing, and Klaus Christoffersen
SUBJECT: Human Factors
KEYWORDS: Workload transitions, workmode transitions, positive train control, railroad, train transitions, risk analysis, human reliability
ABSTRACT: This work proceeded along two parallel paths. First, the research team performed a review and analysis of the fundamental human factors and systems performance issues associated with workload and workmode transitions involving technologies like positive train control (PTC) that can lead to safety and operational problems. These include concerns associated with over-reliance, fixation, skill loss, and shifts in authority between components in the system. Second, the team has examined proposed PTC systems and their intended roles in rail operations to provide an analysis of the risks of the different transitions as they relate to the use of PTC systems in railroading. The opportunities for the high risk failures is greater with PTC systems that provide only an overlay safety function, and are virtually out of sight during normal operations, because the primary risks are associated with the reduction of peopleā€™s awareness of the system operating state. People tend to rely on protection equipment that is normally functioning and forget when it is inoperative.
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