Technical Reports

Issues in Locomotive Crew Management and Scheduling

  • 01
  • Feb
  • 1991
AUTHOR: Pollard
OFFICE: RPD
REPORT NUMBER: DOT/FRA/RRP-91/01
SUBJECT: Human Factors
KEYWORDS: railroad, locomotive engineers, fatigue, suess, circadian rhythm, sleep loss, scheduling, crew-management.
ABSTRACT: This study explores matters related to the scheduling and management of locomotive crews, particularly as they might contribute to fatigue and stress. It describes how crews are scheduled currently. why there is so much unpredictability in schedules, how various aspects of current practices contribute to fatigue and stress, and what options exist to improve matters. It is based mostly on intelviews with operating managers, dispatchers and crew callers on various railroads, discussions with union officials and focus-group sessions with working eng-i neers. The mechanics of scheduling- trains and crews on each of seven roads are discussed along with the timing of scheduling decisions, current problems and planned improvements in communications and control. Among- the causes of fatig-u e identified b.y eng- ineers who participated in the focus groups are: uncertainty as to the time ones next job will be called, excessive working hours, long commutes and waiting times, the poor condition of some locomotives and other equipment, unsatisfactory conditions for sleeping at some terminals. poor distribution of workload among the crew, interpersonal conflicts with dispatchers and crew callers, and deliberate choices by crewmen to do something other than resting during the day even when they knew they might be called for work that night. Possible corrective measures suggested are: a minimum of eight hours notice before reporting for work. greater predictability in scheduling, and division of the pools according to the period of the day when they were susceptible to calls. Plans for implementing some of these measures are discussed.

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