Rail & Public Transport

Workload of a high speed train driver

Driving on the High Speed Line in the Netherlands the train driver passes some voltage transitions, where an overhead voltage change from 1500 V to 25 kV is demanded. In these areas the train driver has to perform some specific actions.

Shortly before or after the voltage changeover a transition in train protection system (ATB <> ERTMS/ETCS) takes place, which the train driver has to notice and acknowledge.
Intergo assessed the workload of the train driver, especially under time pressure.


Based on literature (theory) as well as during observations Intergo determined the time needed to fulfil the demanded actions by the driver (detect, decide, execute and verify).
Also the time available when driving the train at maximum allowed speed (160 km/u) is calculated. Both lengths of time are compared.
Besides Intergo asked the observed train drivers their subjective workload related to the voltage changeover.


During the observations it appears that drivers needed equal or less time to execute the actions than was calculated based on literature. Also the available time for the transition was sufficient to perform all actions in time. Distraction by urgent orders from other train systems, e.g. limitation of speed, increases work pressure but did not have a negative effect on execution in time nor on the experienced workload.
Moreover, railway safety is no issue while passing a voltage transition.