Technical Reports

Remote Control Locomotive Operations: Results of Focus Groups with Remote Control Operators in the United States and Canada

  • 01
  • May
  • 2006
AUTHOR: Stephen Reinach and Sarah Acton
OFFICE: RPD
REPORT NUMBER: DOT/FRA/ORD-06/08
SUBJECT: Remote Control Locomotive Operations
KEYWORDS: portable locomotive control, railroad safety
ABSTRACT: This report presents findings from focus groups with remote control operators (RCOs) in the United States and Canada. The purpose was to learn more about remote control locomotive (RCL) operations safety-related issues, lessons learned, and best practices from those most familiar with the equipment and operations. Seventy-eight RCOs participated in 12 focus groups conducted in four cities. Focus groups addressed five themes: RCL implementation, training, current RCL operations, prior operating experience, and future RCL operations. RCOs identified and discussed a number of issues related to each theme and suggested changes for the future. Key themes based on RCO perceptions and experiences include the following: adequacy of RCO training, reliability of RCL equipment, and RCO situation awareness. RCO suggestions addressed these key themes, for example, improve RCO training. RCOs also noted three primary areas where improvements should be made before RCL operations are considered for service outside yards. They are improved training, more reliable equipment, and greater control over the RCL and consist. Lastly, several future studies are proposed to further enhance the Federal Railroad Administration’s understanding of RCL operations.
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