9. Training material to prevent communication errors

Communication errors that fail to communicate instructions and notifications correctly, hamper safe train operations and supply of appropriate passenger information. Consequently, using data from railway operation related accidents (1,706 items) and near misses (97 items) 23 root causes were identified, and a “Communication error causation model” was created. The model shows the relationship between the causes; for example, the cause for insufficient verification was shown to be “uncertainty about what needs to be checked”.

The model revealed, for example, that the main cause for inefficiency of “talkback” and “confirmation talk” procedures was “uncertainty about what exactly needs to be checked”, and that the remedy for this kind of communication error was to improve the ability to detect “vague expressions or words”. The model also showed that prior learning was required to ensure that “talkback” and “conformation talk” procedures did not become meaningless.

Training material consisting of two steps was drafted. The first step allows the trainee to learn about “vague expressions or words” (Fig. 1) and, the second allows them to understand how to perform “talkback” and “conformation talk” procedures (Fig. 2).

The effectiveness of the training material was confirmed through a trial of 92 test subjects, which resulted in reducing communication errors by half (Fig. 3).