Keeping it real is all in a day’s work for the operational training and education department of Wiener Linien

When your mission is to prepare people for every possible situation on the job, it’s hard to actually do it on the job. That’s why creating real-life situations in a safe, controlled and simulated setting is an invaluable part of the training process. No one understands this more than Ralph Fromwald, deputy head of department of the operational training and education for Wiener Linien GmbH & Co KG, Vienna’s public transport operator which is responsible for some 140 underground, tram and bus lines.

We train students for all things that probably wouldn’t happen in a regular shift on a real train but that they still need to be aware of and tested on. By adding a motion system to our simulators, we have convincingly recreated all the fail out procedures, to teach trainees how to effectively handle the full range of potential problems as if they were real situations.

Photo courtesy of Johannes Zinner

The company is on track to train 450 students in either basic or continuous training by the end of this year (2016), so the technology needs to be above par as there’s always a lot riding on the outcome of these sessions.

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Partnering with leading train simulator supplier CORYS who supplied the two replica simulators, the D-BOX motion system enables a complete training experience for Wiener Linien.

Since the mid-eighties we have a basic simulator for failure training in use but it isn’t equipped with motion. Around 2005 we started to think about using a simulator for training on underground trains and tramways in a more comprehensive way. As a result of this we started at the beginning of this year the operation and use of two new training systems, a new underground simulator and a simulator for the interlocking system. Both simulators can be used in a combined mode. Together with the combined mode the new motion system of the train simulator is an important part of a realistic training scenario. To guarantee the requirements for a high fidelity motion system our simulation supplier started looking around and found D-BOX.

In Fromwald’s opinion, the motion system is a vital addition to the learning process whether it’s for experienced drivers who need to brush up on operating procedures or beginners who could benefit from more realism in their training.

Almost all first-timers come to our company and department without any experience. The motion in the simulator is an integral part to make the scenarios seem more realistic.  It really gives them a precise sense of what it feels like to drive a train before they actually get into a real one. All the sensations, vibrations and subtleties are there in the motion system which helps them understand how to react and prepare for any of the numerous situations that could arise on the job.

For Fromwald, the success of the system is heavily dependent on ensuring that the motion is perfectly in sync with the action on the screen and the sound as well as the intensity of each movement is just right. Things like the short movements that you feel when you’re moving across switches from one lane to another, or changing tracks are vital for the training.

We completely changed the training structure and evolved the curriculum to fit with the new simulators and the motion system. Of course, there’s always a bit adjusting to do, so we need to find the sweet spot. That’s why a continuous feedback process is vital to the success of the program. Once we get it, we make all the changes that we need to create the best possible training experience for our students.

Because of this commitment to accuracy, the response has been excellent so far. In fact, up to 90% of users have a very good opinion of the simulator. Fromwald knows why: 

The D-BOX motion system is the best there is. It has allowed us to offer trainees a totally realistic feel of being in situations where they are faced with actual challenges. That level of simulated training experience creates better drivers and ultimately ensures a safer and smoother passenger experience in Vienna.

Photo courtesy of Johannes Zinner

Photo courtesy of Johannes Zinner