Technical Reports

Railroad Dispatching Operations: Putting Research into Practice–Workshop Summary

  • 01
  • Oct
  • 2006
AUTHOR: Judith Gertler and Sarah Acton
KEYWORDS: Railroad dispatcher, train dispatcher, rail traffic controller, workload, fatigue, stress, taskload,
ABSTRACT: This report summarizes the material presented at a 1-day workshop, Railroad Dispatching Operations: Putting Research into Practice, sponsored by the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) Office of Research and Development Human Factors Program. The purpose of the workshop was to share the most important findings of research on dispatching with railroad dispatching center management and labor and to identify problem areas where additional research is needed. A total of 63 people from the railroad industry, organized labor, government, and the research community participated. Speakers presented the results of FRAsponsored research, industry-sponsored research, and current industry best practices. The luncheon speaker described European dispatching operations, and two panel sessions provided an opportunity for representatives from railroad industry and labor to share best practices and identify future challenges in dispatching operations. A majority of attendees rated the workshop content and organization as very good to excellent. Comments from workshop participants led to the identification of areas where additional research should be considered. These areas include retention of dispatchers, critical incident skills training, and the impact of positive train control on the dispatcher’s job. Based on the success of this event, FRA should consider a broader program of workshops to share the results of human factors research projects.

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