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June 09 , 2011

Evaluation of Rail Technology

A Practical Human Factors Guide


Rapid advancements in train control and in-cab technologies provide significant opportunities for rail operators to improve efficiency and enhance their operations. New technologies often provide elegant solutions to existing problems or new capabilities for the operator. However, new technologies may also represent a significant form of risk. Thus, it is important to balance the potential for significant improvement with justifiable concern about how the technology may unpredictably change the nature of the work. If a technology is designed and implemented without considering the substantive human factors concerns, that technology may lead to unintended consequences that can introduce safety issues and disrupt network performance. It is important to note that even a well-designed and beneficial technology may be rejected by the users who see it as a threat to their jobs, status or working conditions.

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This book discusses the issues surrounding rail technology and introduces a ‘toolkit’ of human factors evaluation methods. The toolkit provides a practical and operationally focused set of methods that can be used by managers considering investing in technology, staff charged with implementing a technology, and consultants engaged to assist with the design and evaluation process. This toolkit can help to ensure that new rail technologies are thoughtfully designed, effectively implemented, and well received by users so that the significant investment associated with developing rail technologies is not wasted.

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