6th International Human Factors Rail Conference
We presented three papers at the Sixth International Human Factors Rail Conference was held in London from 6-9 November 2017. The conference is the only event worldwide focusing solely on rail human factors.
From CCD, David Watts, in collaboration with transport systems catapult, discussed the future of rail and delivering high capacity.
Ged Morrisroe presented 2 papers, one with Daniel Simmons on the Human Factors impact in Traffic Management Systems and one on ETCS commands and signaller requirements.
All with a very real focus on the future of the railway, and our current project involvement placing human factors integration within innovative and forward-thinking rail programmes.
The Future of Rail
With a strong focus on the future of the railway, Laura Sutton (Network Rail) presented on putting the human at the centre of the digital railway. Laura presented the Network Rail concept of the Digital Rail toolkit, and how future rail programmes would benefit from a “pick ’n’ mix” approach to adopting techniques and processes from a variety of programmes to suit the needs of the project requirements and operational concept.
Michelle Nolan-McSweeney (Network Rail), discussed the challenges the industry faces in developing an effective structure within a social technical system. How can we ensure Human Factors is fully integrated in the right way, at the right time, with the right support? How can we best utilise a matrix organisation with, so many stakeholders involved? She concluded by reiterating that time is needed for organisational change.
Chris Lowe (Liv Systems), explained how to better ensure human factors supports software development with rail system development. He explored the benefits of agile working, with multiple design teams working in parallel. He emphasised the importance of a clear and concise concept of operations and the purpose of the design team to evolve this. He referenced the SPRINT approach to agile working and rapid prototyping, adding that it was crucial at SPRINT 0 to establish your style guide and context of use, otherwise, how do you establish the framework for design?
Human Factors in Rail: HF must adapt for the future
With a clear focus on the future of rail, and moreover the digital railway, there was much focus on how we as Human Factors practitioners can have a greater impact on rail programmes of the future and how we need to adapt. Central to this is how we communicate better within a design process, ensuring we are seen to develop and support engineering practises, and promote innovation. We should not be afraid of challenging convention, and if timescales do not favour a human factors programme, then why are they in place at all.