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One is the loneliest number : exploring the role of the second driver in Australian rail operations
journal contributionposted on 06.12.2017, 00:00 by Anjum Naweed, Danielle Every, Ganesh Balakrishnan, J Dorrian
Background: In Australia, train driving is undertaken in single or dual driving modes. While single driver operations are already an increasing trend in the rail industry, research has yet to examine the circumstances under which these modes of operation are most appropriate. Understanding the differences in workload for the single driver and overall error tolerance is critical for safe implementation, particularly for the freight task, which has traditionally been relegated a dual driving operation. Aims: The aim of this study was to investigate the factors that train drivers felt might be related to safe operation of the train in single and dual driving. Method: Data were collected using a qualitative methodology that combined focusgroups, interviews, and observations. In total, sixty-five train drivers participated from 7 rail organisations across Australia. Data were inductively coded and analysed thematically. Results: Positive evaluations of dual driving focused on safety and shared responsibility with particular emphasis on signal observance and workload management. Negative evaluations revealed concern for distraction, inattention, and importantly, personality differences. Two drivers were considered important for freight operations, however the utility of a dual driving mode in metro operations were met with more reserve, where being alone with the task was actually valued. Conclusion: The findings revealed a substantial psychosocial component to perceptions of safety in single versus dual driving, and identified a number of factors that could be tested in a simulator environment. Subsequent study may use these findings to generate evidence-based guidelines for single and dual driver operations under different safe working environments.