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Key technology-related human factors issues
chapterposted on 06.12.2017, 00:00 by Christopher BearmanChristopher Bearman
Introducing new technology generally has the potential to improve safety and/or efficiency. For example, Positive Train Control is designed to both enhance operations and increase safety. Positive Train Control is designed to protect the train from driver error by applying the brakes if the system thinks the driver will over-speed, pass a signal showing a red aspect or operate outside limits set by train controllers (Wreathall, Woods, Bing and Christoffersen, 2007). This seeks to reduce driver errors that lead to worker injuries, harm to the general public and significant economic losses for the rail operators (Wreathall, Woods et al., 2007). According to Wreathall, Woods et al. (2007), the US National Transportation Safety Board has identified over 100 collisions that could have been avoided by a full-function Positive Train Control system. The installation of a similar system in the UK (known as the Train Protection Warning System, TPWS) that intervenes if the train is predicted to over-speed or fail to stop at a red signal has led to a 22 per cent reduction in signals passed at danger (SPADs) and an estimated 86 per cent reduction in overall risk (Rail Accident Investigation Branch, 2008). This presents an impressive case for the installation of such systems in the rail industry.