3 April 2012Abstract:
The train traffic control system of the future requires new solutions and strategies in order to better meet tomorrow's demands and goals. Uppsala University and Trafikverket has been collaborating for several years in research regarding train traffic control and how to improve traffic controllers' work environment. At an early stage in the collaboration there have been studies and analysis of important aspects of the traffic controller's tasks, strategies, decision making, use of information and support systems. This research resulted in new control paradigms, from control by exception to control by re-planning. By using this paradigm we developed and designed prototype systems and interfaces that better could meet future goals and contribute to more optimal use of infrastructure capacity. Based on this research, a new operational traffic control system called STEG, was developed in an iterative and user-centred design process. The system was deployed and tested operatively at a train traffic control centre in Sweden. The following evaluations focused on what happens when STEG is introduced in train traffic controllers' work places. The evaluation of STEG showed satisfied users with a feeling of active involvement during the design and deployment processes, and the new control strategies are functioning. STEG was seen as successful and was thereafter developed into MULTI-STEG, intended to be used by several users simultaneously and supporting them to share information in a new way. MULTI-STEG was deployed and tested at another train traffic control centre in Sweden. The following evaluations of MULTI-STEG focused on what happens when several users are involved and how train traffic controllers felt of sharing information with each other that before have been only in their own minds. Some complications occurred due to mistakes in the deployment process, but all together the evaluation showed positive attitudes towards the new system and MULTI-STEG was received as an efficient system for train traffic control.
The main results are that STEG and MULTI-STEG can be used as an efficient train traffic control system and the new system can reduce the unnecessary cognitive load that the traffic controllers suffer from with today's system. Also the deployment process is crucial whether the users are going to accept a new system or not. STEG was developed in a user-centred design process, but it is important that the deployment process is user-centered as well.
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