R2.117 Safety Case for Driver Only Operations

Currently, two driver operations are the most common way to operate freight and coal trains in most parts of Australia. However, (Driver Only Operations; DOO) are becoming more frequent. Moving from the traditional “two-up” driver system to DOO may result in increases in single driver workload as well as changes in likelihood of error and the types of errors made.

Therefore, the aim of the proposed research program is to examine the decision-making, error profile and performance of single-driver operations compared to two-driver operations. Specifically, this study will examine the circumstances under which DOO operations are likely to be appropriate (i.e. depending on safeworking system, track characteristics, train consist etc.). Indeed, there may be conditions where DOO may represent a safety improvement relative to dual driver operations. The proposed project will involve a mixed-methods approach, consisting of three complimentary phases:

  1. Focus groups will be conducted to explore the factors that drivers feel may be related to safe operation of the train in single and dual driver systems;

  2. A series of in-cab observations of “two-up” and DOO operations will be conducted to evaluate driver workload and error tolerance; and

  3. Informed by Phases 1 and 2, scenarios will be developed and tested in the simulator to compare “two-up” and DOO.

Systematic examination of the differences between “two-up” and DOO in rail will allow informed implementation of DOO, which is already an increasing trend in the Australian rail Industry. In particular, understanding of the differences in workload for the single driver, and overall error tolerance of the system is critical for safe implementation of DOO. This research will generate evidence-based guidelines for a standard national safety case for single driver operations in Australia.