The Effects of Fatigue on Train Handling During Speed Restrictions

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date


Subject Area

planning - safety/accidents, mode - rail


Train operations simulators, Train operation, Train handling, Speed limits, Railroad simulators, Railroad safety, Locomotive simulators, Locomotive engineers, Human subject testing, Human factors, Fatigue (Physiological condition), Fatigue (Biology), Enginemen


Due to their schedules, train drivers are likely to experience elevated fatigue at work, which can have marked safety consequences. This study investigated the effects of fatigue on the ability to negotiate speed restrictions. Twenty male train drivers drove a realistic rail simulator and their performance was evaluated in fatigue three fatigue groups; low, moderate and high. Overall, fatigue had a marked effect on performance during speed restrictions. In general, drivers in the high fatigue group used the brake less and traveled at faster speeds. In addition, it appears that speed restrictions following moderate to heavy descending grades are more likely to be sensitive to fatigue. In contrast, performance was less affected during undulating territory, where a higher level of interaction was required to control the train. Overall, results suggested that there are certain types of track sections where fatigue is most likely to have serious effect.


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