Technical Report 2006-025

Designing a Graphical User Interface for Train Traffic Control

Johan Wikström, Arvid Kauppi, Arne W. Andersson, and Bengt Sandblad



In 1996, on initiative of the Swedish National Rail Administration, a research study was initiated by the department of Human Computer Interaction at Uppsala University with the aim to learn more about the problems and difficulties involved in train traffic control. As a result of this study, and the developing situation with higher speeds, more frequent traffic, and many competing train traffic operators, a research project was initiated. The purpose was to find new strategies and technical solutions for future train traffic control.

Modern research on human-computer interaction in complex and dynamic systems provided a framework for how to design an interface meeting these demands. Important aspects concern e.g. workload, situation awareness and automated cognitive processes, limitations in human memory capacity, cognitive work environment problems, human error performance and dynamic decision processes. Throughout the research a user centered approach has been applied. The new proposed interface is designed to integrate all decision relevant information into one unified interface and to support a continuous awareness of the dynamic development of the traffic process. A prototype of new train traffic control interface has been implemented in close collaboration with active train dispatchers. Early and promising in-house tests have been made using the prototype described in this paper. More extensive case studies and experiments need to be conducted before a complete evaluation can be made.

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