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Topic Review
LSemmens

[*] posted on 5-6-2017 at 05:59
Having a human in control of anything where lives are at stake is still preferable to full automation which is fine if everything is predictable and the "ducks" are all in a row. As soon as the unpredictability of outside factors comes in, a human is more likely to ameliorate what could be disastrous consequences. A machine will only operate according to its predetermined program.
JackInCT

[*] posted on 5-6-2017 at 00:50
Quote:
Originally posted by scholar
...possibly to the point of dozing off..


From the Railroad Workers United (RWU) website c & p:
The RWU membership is a diverse group of railroad workers, family members and retirees from throughout North America. We have members from all the rail crafts and all of the railroad unions.

Re causes of crew fatigue per the RWU website:

As the recent Metro North passenger train wreck in New York (about 2 yrs ago; I made a topic re sleep apnea tests for all the drivers) illustrates, fatigue kills. From preliminary reports, it appears that the engineer had nodded off. This of course would not be the first time that a train crew member fell asleep. As we know, it happens all the time. In this case however, the result was catastrophic.

Sleepiness, spacing out, nodding off, zoning out, drowsiness -- it is a way of life for railroad train crews. Considering the lack of scheduling in the freight industry; the 24/7 nature of the job; the lack of time off work (and harsh availability policies that keep us "in line" if and when we choose to mark off); the inability to predict the time when one will be called to work or when one will be relieved of duty -- it is a wonder that there are not more tragic wrecks as a result of fatigue.

When there is a spectacular wreck like the Metro North derailment, the immediate temptation is to blame the train's crew. But those of us in train & engine service know that there is always more to it than that. In the days and weeks to come, railroad train crews across the nation will be bombarded with "advisories", "alerts" and bulletins that beseech us to stay alert, to remain focused, and maintain our “situational awareness”. Yet ironically, not a single railroad will do anything to improve train lineup predictability, grant the needed time off work to those who request it, schedule their railroad's trains, or beef up the extra boards and/or pools to ensure adequate staffing which would result in adequate rest for train crews.

There are federally mandated crew rest period whose intent is similar to those for doctors (in hospitals), truck drivers, airline crews, etc.,. How well the RRs are monitored for compliance I cannot speak to. Truck drivers (tractor trailers especially) in particular are criticized since they maintain their own logs re compliance, i. e., an honor system re the data. Do trucks with GPS tracking systems that send telemetry to their home office have better compliance; don't know!
scholar

[*] posted on 4-6-2017 at 23:56
The U.S. railroads have had a number of accidents attributed to human error, and the reporters always bemoan the fact that automation has not eliminated the human factor. The reporters imply that the railroad companies are too cheap to replace the fallible humans.

Boredom (possibly to the point of dozing off) and marijuana use are two factors often mentioned in connection with accidents.
Katzy

[*] posted on 4-6-2017 at 16:43
Quote:
Originally posted by John_Little
Level crossings are dangerous. It is surprising they still exist. But if the do, it's better they are manned than automatic.


It's been proven that manned crossings are MUCH safer than auto ones. But, with the Tories having privatised it, profit (For foreign companies) is more important than people's lives and jobs.

Quote:
Originally posted by marymary100
Apparently even the boss of the railway company doesn't have the right to enter the green box. There is a similar box near where I work and the employee took great delight telling a room of teachers and other professionals that when we were having a meeting about one of his children .


Apart from the person on duty, a signal box used to be sacrosanct. After all, if a signalman was distracted, a disaster could easily ensue. Sadly, now, we have these ludicrous power boxes, which control lines which may be any miles from the box. Profits are more important than people, again. In the old days, until quite recently, the signalman could see everything that he controlled.

Even now, a train driver can refuse anyone, even the chairman of the company, access to the train's cab. Unless, of course, he/she's being tested. Some of the traction inspectors still try it on, though. Most drivers take great pleasure from telling them to pi55 off.

Quite right, too. :D
marymary100

[*] posted on 4-6-2017 at 13:35
Apparently even the boss of the railway company doesn't have the right to enter the green box. There is a similar box near where I work and the employee took great delight telling a room of teachers and other professionals that when we were having a meeting about one of his children .
John_Little

[*] posted on 4-6-2017 at 13:20
Level crossings are dangerous. It is surprising they still exist. But if the do, it's better they are manned than automatic.
JackInCT

[*] posted on 4-6-2017 at 12:44
Attribution:
Photog: Phil Cotterill
Uploaded to railpictures.net May 16, 2017
ID Caption: "Surprising to find this still happening in 2017! This is Chartham, near Canterbury, in Kent. The crossing keeper is kept busy with 6 trains per hour, during the day."

Isn't the 'crossing keeper' out of uniform without wearing his bowler hat [top hats are solely the prerogative of management level personnel]? You English are letting tradition slip right through your fingers/wherever without any, apparently, conception of your glorious (or is it vainglorious) past!!!

The trains have to stop, right, when it's tea time for the crossing keeper!