Identification of Fatigue Countermeasures for Adjusted Work Schedules Designed to Manage Fatigue During Peak Service Demand Periods in the Shortline Railroad Industry - Phase II (Year 2)

Based on results from the study in (MPC- 409) and input from representatives of the Short Line Railroad Association (ASLRRA) it is apparent that railroad employees in the shortline railroad industry work long hours and often during the time between midnight and 5am. The Rail Safety Improvement Act of 2008 creates difficulty for short line railroad operators during peak harvest season. The Hours of Service Act (HOS) was amended by the 2008 RSIA. Currently, if railroad employees work for six consecutive days, they must have at least two days off before they can work again. Working seven consecutive days is acceptable if the seventh day is required to return employees to their home terminal. However, if employees work seven consecutive days, they must have at least three consecutive days off before they can return to duty. In peak seasons service demands are very extreme and it is difficult for crews to operate within the time constraints. Consequently, there is a need to address ways to assist smaller railroads with limited budgets and fewer operating crews to better managing the fatigue associated with long hours of work. Recently Gertler et . al (2013) released a study showing that most road freight jobs do not have a regular start time. According to the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA), the distribution of start and end times for T&E is such that only 17 percent of T&E jobs start between 6 and 8 a.m. Figure 1 provides the median work in 2 weeks and the median daily duty hours for each T&E schedule group. By comparison, start times in obtained from data from the Sherry (2015) (MPC-406) study shows that shortline industry work schedules are more predictable with approximately 53% of starts occurring between 6 and 7 am with only 16% of work shifts starting after 6pm. Consequently, the identification of viable fatigue countermeasures that are viable is more likely in the shortline setting. Many crew work schedules might have natural opportunities for the implementation of fatigue countermeasures. For example, in Figure 3, it can be seen that a typical shortline railroad employee has a regular midnight shift job commencing at 23:00 hours and ending at 8:00 hours the next day. Results of the analysis of the work schedule against the standard FRA Fatigue Analysis Scheduling Tool (FAST) (Gertler, 2012) suggested that there are several days where the individual becomes so fatigued that their cognitive performance falls below recommended levels and into the high risk area (red zone). Strategic application of napping and rest periods might reduce fatigue (and bring the plot up out of the red zone) as shown by the plot of the effects of fatigue in Figure 4. This is an important issue for railroads operating in the Bakken area, hauling crude oit. For example, in 2011, the crew of a BNSF coal train in Red Oak, Iowa, fell asleep and instead of stopping struck the rear of a parked equipment train, crushing the cab and killing the crew of the coal train, sparking a diesel fire and causing $8.7 million worth of damage. Media have questionnaire the possible role of fatigue in contributing to rail accidents due to the fact that so many shipments involve crude oil nowadays. (Rail Workers Raise Doubts About Safety Culture As Oil Trains Roll On2 Crude oil was once a rare commodity in rail cars. Last year BNSF, the leading crude oil transporter, hauled more than 600,000 barrels per day across its network, including as many as 18 trains per week through the Columbia River Gorge. Evaluating the effects of fatigue countermeasures inserted in the work schedules will provide evidence as to the effectiveness of these countermeasures and also hopefully lead to a safer and more productive and therefore more economically competitive transportation system. Accordingly, by gathering data on hours worked, hours of sleep, alertness and fatigue prior to, during, and after implementation of fatigue countermeasures for a period of at least ninety days the project will be able to evaluate the effectiveness of the countermeasures. Data collection will consist of three 30 day periods using sleep diaries and other self- report techniques, as well as observations and data gathered through sleep monitoring techniques. In addition, the fatigue models approved by the FRA will be utilized to evaluate the effectiveness of the interventions (Hursh, Raslear, Kaye, & Fanzone, 2009). Thus, the proposed study will, based on previous research, identify various fatigue countermeasures that will be tested in the operational environment. Ultimately, the schedules and the appropriate countermeasures will be posted on the web sites and distribute to the ASLRRA.


  • English


  • Status: Active
  • Funding: $188312
  • Contract Numbers:


  • Sponsor Organizations:

    Research and Innovative Technology Administration

    University Transportation Centers Program
    1200 New Jersey Avenue, SE
    Washington, DC  United States  20590
  • Project Managers:

    Kline, Robin

  • Performing Organizations:

    University of Denver

    2199 S University Blvd
    Denver, Colorado  United States  80208
  • Principal Investigators:

    Sherry, Patrick

  • Start Date: 20150612
  • Expected Completion Date: 20180731
  • Actual Completion Date: 0
  • Source Data: MPC-409

Subject/Index Terms

Filing Info

  • Accession Number: 01580141
  • Record Type: Research project
  • Source Agency: Mountain-Plains Consortium
  • Contract Numbers: DTRT13-G-UTC38
  • Files: UTC, RiP
  • Created Date: Oct 29 2015 2:17PM