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Simulators in the rail industry : touching the third rail of driver training
conference contributionposted on 06.12.2017, 00:00 authored by Anjum NaweedAnjum Naweed, Ganesh BalakrishnanGanesh Balakrishnan
In the past 10 years, simulation has swiftly become a familiar feature in the Australian rail industry. This is driven by a strong organisational intent to improve driver learning initiatives and enrich the overall training process, but the keen uptake is invariably fuelled by the promise that train simulators will facilitate knowledge acquisition, enhance decision support, and engender skills that transfer positively from the simulated environment to the actual cab. This paper presents research that set out to investigate how train simulators are currently being integrated into the structure of the organisation, and how industry end-users (driver trainers and simulation managers) are wielding them to enhance their training programs. Focus groups and observations were undertaken at a number of Australian rail organisations that were either in possession of simulators, or undergoing their procurement. The data collected were analysed thematically and showed that, whilst the pathway for training integration was very varied, train simulators were extremely underutilised, despite their keen uptake and adoption. Further, effective application appeared to be hindered by a plethora of usability issues, and concerns for technical reliability exhibited by end-users. The findings revealed one or more disconnects residing somewhere between the developer’s promise, the forecasted deliveries, and the organisational intent, which destabilised the process for fully integrating a simulator into the organisation. This paper disentangles this dynamic by considering key obstructions impeding the path of effective simulator application, and provides some suggestions for managing the key pressure points, towards better preparing the rail industry for integrating these tools in their training initiatives.