Tuesday 22 September 2015
Human Factors / Safety

5th International Rail Human Factors Conference held from 14 – 17 September 2015 in London

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The 5th International Rail Human Factors Conference was held in London between 14 and 17 September 2015. This conference is the only event worldwide focusing solely on Rail Human Factors. The conference was jointly organised by RSSB, Network Rail and the University of Nottingham, and in association with the European Railway Agency (ERA), the International Union of Railways (UIC) and the Institute of Ergonomics and Human Factors (IEHF).

Representatives from five continents – Morocco to Japan and down to Australia had the opportunity to discuss, analyse and explore the wide-ranging aspects of Rail Human Factors during the conference.
The conference is the leading forum to bring together those who need to apply the expertise, methods, tools and knowledge of rail ergonomics/human factors. The aim of this conference was to provide an opportunity to bring together scientists, consultants, regulators, operators, infrastructure managers, manufacturers and suppliers to share Rail Human Factors knowledge.

Christian Neveu, SNCF, Chairman of the UIC Human Factors Working Group, presented the UIC study on “Training and drilling personnel for disrupted situations”. This study is aimed at managers, safety experts, and trainers. It pools the experience of various member companies of the UIC Safety Platform in order to draw lessons and make recommendations to help better prepare staff to cope with heavily-disrupted situations. These situations are something that railways have to handle as part of their daily business. Routine processes are insufficient to resolve them, unfamiliar stakeholders may be involved, and staff is under pressure. This makes such situations more difficult to manage, sometimes causing incidents or even accidents. In such situations, the role of staff is crucial; human decision-making is often safetycritical. The training and drilling of staff to cope with such situations is therefore a very effective tool in improving the way they are managed.

Meryem Belhaj, UIC, chaired the session on “Managing change”. This session included presentations from RSSB on “human factors review of the rail operation at the Port of Felixstowe” and an “application of change management models to safety critical change”. SNCF and Mines Paris-Tech gave a presentation on “Socio-technical system resilience: assessment and improvement method”. This session finished with Network Rail and their trade unions’ collaborative approach to a safety culture change.

The conference focussed on many other topics such as:

  • The discussion of topical issues such as in-cab signalling
  • Traffic management
  • Non-technical skills
  • The platform-train interface and safety culture
  • Level crossings

However topics on all aspects of rail human factors were welcome. The first three days covered the main conference programme and the final day consisted of technical visits to see the operational railway in action.

The conference organising committee was composed of:

Meryem Belhaj, UIC, France
Mike Carey, Network Rail, UK
Dr David Golightly, University of Nottingham, UK
Kelly Greene, RSSB, UK
Dr Ann Mills, RSSB, UK
Christian Neveu, SNCF, France
Susan Reinartz, ERA, France
Dr Brendan Ryan, University of Nottingham, UK
Prof Sarah Sharples, University of Nottingham, UK
Laura Sutton, Network Rail, UK
Anita Weltz, RSSB, UK
Mark Young, RAIB, UK

For further information please contact Meryem Belhaj, Senior Advisor for International Training and Human Factors: belhaj@uic.org

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Ann Mills, Head of Human Factors at RSSB (UK)
Christian Neveu, Head of Organisational and Human Factors at SNCF and Chairman of the Human Factors Working Group of the UIC Safety Platform
Meryem Belhaj, Senior Advisor for International Training and Human Factors within the UIC Safety Unit
One of the technical visits to RAIB (Rail Accident Investigation Branch)