Signalling engineers need to make sure they don’t become complacent. Keeping the consequences of accidents at the front of their mind is key.
Complacency can lead to accidents which can have devastating consequences, the likes of which don’t need spelling out to anyone working in the rail industry.
Those of us who have driven cars for years will appreciate how we can easily make small errors out on the road. It is the same for signalling engineers, particularly those doing maintenance and performing the same tasks repeatedly. It is very easy to become complacent and fail to complete your work thoroughly, and unfortunately that is one of the most difficult things to counteract.
The vast majority of signalling engineers have received good training and, when tested, know how to do their jobs correctly. But this doesn’t mean they do it right every single time. It only takes one slip of judgement for an accident to happen.
Engineers who have witnessed rail accidents know how devastating they can be. However, getting this across to those who have never seen a crash is difficult. Obviously, you can’t send engineers out onto the track to see a real train crash. This can only be done in the virtual world. That’s why we created a Virtual Reality (VR) system for signal maintenance engineers which provides a virtual world where they can carry out their tests and see what happens if they don’t get it right.
We have created an Aspect Test for an on-track signal. The engineer has their list of checks to complete and, if they don’t perform them all in the correct order, the trainer does not tick them off on the system. At the end of the test, the trainer can run a virtual train through that piece of track and, if the checks haven’t been completed correctly, the train will crash in front of them, with all the sounds that go with that to make it as real as possible. The engineers are then taken into a darkened room and shown headlines from previous rail crashes. This brings home the idea that, in the event of a crash, they would be national news the next day.
We’ve found that this is an effective way to tap into the engineers’ emotions, so that staying alert and on form is at the forefront of their mind each time they go out. We’ve already won an Enginuity Skills and Innovation Award for the system.
Engineering is seen as a very technical activity, but the challenge is to change how engineers think and feel and about their work. We can give engineers all the technical skills in the world but ensuring that they put them into practice every single day, is a much more difficult proposition.
PM Training and Assessing Ltd
Email: [email protected]
Tel: 01874 620704