After his interview on TVNZ yesterday where he talked about the congestion free network, Len Brown headed south to Wiri launch the driving simulators for our new electric trains. Patrick and I both went along to have a look at them and also have a go. These simulators – there are two of them – are brand new and are intended to help with the training of drivers. The console is laid out exactly the same as the new trains are, while the performance is meant to match what is expected to happen out on the network. To get the network right the company that made the simulators spent some time filming the entire Auckland network and have recreated it in the simulation software including the future Parnell station. There is one station that can control the two simulators and throw at the trainees a range of events to practice on from different weather conditions to cars on the tracks or mechanical faults.
Here is the press release from Auckland Transport about them:
Auckland’s train drivers are learning to drive the city’s new electric trains prior to the first one arriving from Spain at the end of the month.
Auckland Transport has set up two ‘state of the art’ simulators which are being used to train the drivers. Each simulator is laid out exactly like the driver’s cab in an electric train with all the controls in the same place and a large flat screen display in place of the windscreen. Rather like a giant video game, the screen displays the view that the driver would see from the cab.
The simulator is programmed with the Auckland railway network, which was filmed last year and converted into video graphics, allowing drivers to be trained to drive over the full network.
Auckland Transport Chairman Dr Lester Levy was today shown the simulator. “I was given some basic training on how to drive it, the new trains are going to be great for Auckland commuters and, if the simulator is anything to go by, they’ll be a pleasure to drive.”
The simulator can be set to show daytime or night-time and includes a range of weather conditions, it can also simulate faults in the train or events on the line.
Transdev driver trainer William Els says, “Drivers can familiarise themselves with all the safety features before they even get in the cab or out on the network. The simulator means drivers get more than double the practical experience they would have had otherwise.”
A training instructor sets up the simulator at the start of each training session to select the route, weather, time of day and any incidents or faults that are required for the training session. The trainee then operates the simulator while the instructor monitors progress remotely, using mimic screens and a webcam that shows what the trainee is doing. Every training run is recorded and can be played back and analysed with the trainee.
Transdev Managing Director Terry Scott says, “Safety is a priority at Transdev so having a tool like the simulator for our drivers to practise on is fantastic.”
Once drivers are competent on the simulator they will be test driving the new trains on the network prior to passenger services starting early next year.
There are 57 three-car train sets being manufactured by Construcciones y Auxilair Ferrocarriles (CAF) in Spain, all will be operating by mid-2015.
The simulators have been manufactured by Lander Simulation and Training Solution S.A. based in Spain.
Here are some photos of them in action starting off with Len driving out of the Britomart tunnel. Later on he managed to hit a car that had ignored the level crossing at Sarawia St.
And here is what the simulator looks like from further back.
And lastly here is Patrick having a go, I hear he is now considering a change of career.
While the rail network has been fairly comprehensively modelled, some of the surrounding areas aren’t quite so exact. For example as this video hopefully shows, the section from Remuera to Greenlane shows the motorway as just a two lane road. Of course not that it makes a huge difference to the train driver how accurate the motorway is.
As for the first train itself, it is currently on a boat and somewhere in that small expanse of water known as the Pacific Ocean after it passed through the Panama Canal late last week. It is due to arrive in the country on August 24.