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An Examination of Amtrak's Acela High Speed Rail Simulator for FRA Research Purposes

  • 01
  • Apr
  • 2001
AUTHOR: Stephen Reinach
OFFICE: RPD
SUBJECT: Amtrak
KEYWORDS: Human Factors, Computer Simulation, Railroad Technology
ABSTRACT: Amtrak recently completed upgrading the northeast corridor (NEC) to become the nation’s first high speed rail corridor. As part of this upgrade, Amtrak acquired a simulator to train its locomotive engineers on the operation of the new Acela trainsets that will run along the NEC. The U.S. Congress subsequently mandated the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) Office of Research and Development to review Amtrak’s Acela high speed rail simulator to determine its suitability as a research tool for use by the FRA. The FRA has expressed an interest in using the Acela high speed rail simulator to research a number of human-centered locomotive engineer issues, such as training, fatigue and alertness, the safety of new technologies, and communication. The purpose of the research described in this technical memorandum is to determine whether the Amtrak Acela high speed rail simulator facility is capable of being used by the FRA to conduct research on human-centered issues. The FRA expected that some modifications would likely have to be made to the existing simulator to adapt it to their needs. Given this, the overall project goals were to: assess the current functional capabilities of the Acela high speed rail simulator; identify characteristics of the current simulator configuration that restrict the ability to (1) conduct human-centered locomotive engineer research and (2) collect operator performance data; and propose modifications to the Acela high speed rail simulator to meet the needs of the FRA’s research goals and agenda.
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