”We’re Doing This Together”: An in-Depth Analysis of the Teamwork between Train Traffic Controllers and Train Drivers

Rebecca Cort


Operational train traffic is executed by train drivers and traffic controllers operating as a tightly coupled team. Although separated in time and space, their work is intertwined to the degree that the realisation of the train traffic depends on successful coordination and collaboration between them. Prior rail research is mostly focused on either one of these two roles, which leaves the collaboration between them understudied. The controller-driver dyad is at the core of operational train traffic and their relationship is of major interest in creating and maintaining a safe and efficient train traffic system. With the use of observations and interviews, this study investigates and analyses the controller-driver dynamic, how they view each other and their collaboration. The findings highlight team spirit and trust within the relationship, and at the same time reveal an underlying relational distance that affects the relationship and their prerequisites for achieving a successful collaboration. Lack of insights into each other’s work and different priorities generate challenges, just as the implementation of new technology and its effects on information distribution. Findings are discussed in the context of obtaining a holistic perspective of operational train traffic, and the fundamental activities that lie at its core.


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