"The aim is to enhance the learning experience of the crew and improve their productivity and driving skills with regard to aspects like train dynamics and handling."
The skills and safety awareness of train drivers in India are hoped to be improved significantly with the widening of a 3D simulator-based training programme, made possible with a reported £40m (Rs 350 crore) of investment from the country’s state operator.
Included in the Indian Railways' 2018/19 budget, which at around £16bn is the highest level of investment ever on the Indian rail network, the funding will add 17 more electric and diesel rolling stock simulators to the seven already in use in the country as well as enhance the learning experience of the crew and improve their productivity and driving skills, according to government officials,
The training will also deliver major time and efficiency improvements due to the fact that there will now be an advanced simulator available in every division, cutting down on journey times for participants.
The decision to introduce many more 3D simulators came following research carried out by the Indian Railways into how the technology is used across rail networks in the US, France and Spain, where they’re used extensively for all levels – from introduction to top-up refresher courses.
A spokesperson at Indian Railways said the latest news was part of an overall plan to modernise the crew training infrastructure across the network, using tools including computer modelling, simulation and interactive knowledge-based training and assessment tools. “The aim is to enhance the learning experience of the crew and improve their productivity and driving skills with regard to aspects like train dynamics and handling, dealing with unusual and hazardous events, route learning, economical fuel efficient driving and safe operations.”
Perhaps unsurprisingly, the more time spent on train simulators improves the skill of those crew who have taken part – enabling them to better manage the handling and brakes and to deal with out of the ordinary events. It also has knock-on benefit for the overall running costs too by bringing benefits such as lower energy bills thanks to efficient driving and increased productivity from the train crew.
There are certainly no shortage of participants for the training, as according to India’s Economic Times there more than 85,000 drivers operating in excess of 12,000 electric and diesel locomotives on a daily basis across the country’s 41,000-mile network. The training will be able to be completed much further afield that was previously possible, with the 3D simulation programme harnessing cloud-based technology to offer training on android platforms that can be used on various handsets and tablets.
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