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Enhanced driving simulator leads way for driver training and development

Press Release   •   Nov 07, 2006 23:00 GMT

Virgin Trains has just commissioned the latest technology in driver training simulation, following the upgrading of the Pendolino simulator at its training centre in Crewe. The simulator was delivered in early 2000 as part of the contract for the new electric Pendolino tilting trains, which now operate Virgin’s West Coast services from London Euston to the West Midlands, the North West and Scotland.

The upgrade to the Pendolino simulator has cost around £150k and allows Virgin Trains to use the latest in computer technology to create real life scenarios in a safe classroom environment. Used alongside two Voyager simulators, the Pendolino simulator is used as part of the training package for new drivers. It will also be used from next year as part of the on-going assessment that drivers have to undertake.

The upgrade of the Pendolino simulator has been undertaken by CORYS T.E.S.S. and they also provide on-site support. The upgraded simulator now features a three-channel projection system, which is a first for the UK rail industry.

Over 1,000 drivers have been trained on the simulators since 2000, but with advances in computer technology the processing capabilities and graphics package have now been enhanced. For the first time the Pendolino simulator features a panoramic 120 degree cab view, which provides detailed graphics of track and surrounding area.”

Virgin Trains’ Colin Campbell, Head of Operational Development said: “Drivers have to be competent in dealing with a multitude of situations, but are unlikely to experience some of them for real. The simulator will allow us to replicate these scenarios in the classroom.”

For the first time the Pendolino simulator has been programmed to replicate the effects of degraded systems on board the train. The graphic effects can even simulate – with sound effects - driving rain, various densities of falling snow and even the effects of a brick being thrown off a bridge, breaking the train’s windscreen.

Instructors can place obstructions on the track, instantly change weather conditions or even mimic the effects of leaves on the track. They can also replicate the effects of the failure of any of the train’s power, electrical or air systems.

The control workstation provides visual contact allowing the instructor to see how the driver reacts to created scenarios. A voice communication system is also fitted.

An audio and visual record of each training session is produced and can be saved to DVD to enable debriefing to be carried out. The DVD’s also form part of a driver’s training record.

Colin Campbell added: “The driving simulation equipment is more than just a tool to teach new drivers how to drive a train. It will also be used as part of the on-going training and monitoring of drivers competencies. It allows us to create scenarios that drivers may not experience out on the main line and then monitor how they deal with the incident.”

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