For rail training design, the saying goes that ‘practice makes perfect’. Now I don’t wish to be pedantic but this is not entirely true. Firstly, practicing errors just re-enforces problems so it really should read ‘good practice makes perfect in rail training design’ and secondly the frequency of practice, no matter what you are studying, will dictate how ‘perfect’ you become at it.
Applying my pedantic views to rail training raises questions in two areas:
Learning design is determined by factors including regulations, budget and training needs analysis, however assuming an optimal design and delivery mechanism the frequency of training has a significant effect on the desired learning outcomes.
Time is money, as they say, so can we improve training frequency, make classroom time more efficient and reduce costs at the same time? The answer lies in learning design and I must credit the team at Great Western Railway (GWR) for helping me see this.
At a meeting with GWR last year, where we were discussing mobile simulators and training apps for their new rolling stock, it was a throw away remark that got the 3DVSL team thinking. The comment was that ‘drivers know how to drive trains, it’s the new buttons and screens that cause the problem’. Exploring this a little further we realised that it was training on specific control panel interfaces such as GSM-R, TCMS, TPWS etc where the greatest benefit to rail training design and frequency could be made.
Whether it’s new or updated control interfaces, the speed at which a driver can become (and remain) confident in its use will impact on the cost and risk to the train operator, and so was born our inTrain Confidence Builders!
The first of these is the inTrain GSM-R mobile simulator which has been rolled out on Android tablets and smartphones within GWR.
Their aim was to increase confidence and familiarisation with the Siemens GSM-R control panel and its interaction with the GSM-R network, and, I’m pleased to say, that’s exactly what they are achieving their Driver Simulator Team Leader tells us that they are benefiting from a reduction in both costs and risk by enabling drivers to practise standard and emergency procedures on their tablets and phones at regular intervals and times that suit them.
This is a win/win as the drivers become more confident and the train operator reduces risk of error and any knock-on cost.
I’m extremely proud of the The inTrain GSM-R mobile simulator has been well received by the market and the way we have combined design focus, simulation and mobile technology to deliver a product that builds confidence, frees up classroom time and reduces risk as well as skills fade. For more details check out the GWR case study.