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Elements of style : towards a more standardised model of driving strategy and route knowledge in heavy haul

conference contribution
posted on 2017-12-06, 00:00 authored by Anjum NaweedAnjum Naweed, G Balaksrishnan, Ganesh Balakrishnan
Train drivers in heavy haul rely on a complex mental model of the railway environment. This ensures that they can use the appropriate driving styles for long and heavy trains, but also accurately apply the correct driving strategies. The use of driving strategies is powered by route knowledge, which links dynamic task demands with remedial actions and behaviours. Despite the importance of driving strategy, very little research has sought to examine how train drivers in heavy haul structure and apply their strategies, and how this relates with the way route knowledge is formalised. Data were collected from train drivers (n = 25) in two heavy hail rail operators (coal, iron ore) using an innovative approach that incorporated scenario simulation and task verbalisation into focus groups and cab rides. Analysis of these data identified train management as the dominant component of driving style, and routes were formalised according to different aspects of the railway’s centreline coordinates. These ranged from focusing on the Gradient Profile, through to the complete 3D landform. This paper disaggregates the ingredients of driving strategy and formalisms that were found to underpin train driving in heavy haul, and identifies synergies between different strategy elements. The outcomes of this study are discussed in the context of implications on training, recruitment and “driverless trains,” and aim to help inform a more standardised development of driving skills.


Category 1 - Australian Competitive Grants (this includes ARC, NHMRC)


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Perth, Australia


International Heavy Haul Association

Place of Publication

Virginia Beach, USA

Peer Reviewed

  • Yes

Open Access

  • No

External Author Affiliations

Appleton Institute for Behavioural Sciences; School of Human, Health and Social Sciences (2013- );

Era Eligible

  • Yes

Name of Conference

International Heavy Haul Association. Conference