With thousands of retirees in its railway workforce in recent years, Union Pacific has decided to modernize the way it trains new recruits. A comprehensive training tool using video game technology is helping trainees gain the skills needed to be confident and safe when working in rail yards.
"Video gamers, like those who play Xbox 360 or PlayStation 3, feel right at home using Union Pacific's latest training technology," said Scott Hinckley, general director-safety and security, in a news release. "This is a natural training medium for employees who grew up in the video gaming environment and it enhances their extensive safety and operation training." Read More...
Titled the Rail Operations Simulation program (ROS), the computer software teaches new employees how to manoeuvre locomotives in rail yards, operate "switches" that guide a rail car from one track to another and sort rail cars into different tracks by the rail car destination. It also helps employees develop the right decision-making skills needed in this complex work environment.
ROS simulates United Pacific’s Cheyenne Yard, a flat-switching yard used by employees throughout the system to learn basic switching operations and railroad terminology. The virtual training tool gives new employees a safe place to practice what they have learned in the classroom, before they work outside in the real-world rail yard.
The project launched in 2005 was created by United Pacific employees Jon Jensen, of the information technology group, and Steve Bakunas, of the rail operations group. The software development was done in collaboration with Michigan-based P.I. Engineering and was two years in the making.
The two partners have also developed two other training simulators dealing with incline or "hump" yards and remote control locomotive operations. United Pacific continues to look for ways to integrate virtual-reality technology to further assist employees.