Imagine the role of a railway signaller… controlling the routing of a train, operating signals from a signal box or operations centre… the information screens, indicators, warning lights and alarms… all utilising highly technical skills developed through specialist training. The development of these skills then occurs on the job, alongside experienced supervisors and managers until signallers are deemed sufficiently competent to go it alone. But, are technical skills alone enough to safely direct trains?
All of the operational staff at Network Rail – including signallers, control room operatives, local operations managers, mobile operations managers – also need a whole range of non-technical skills (NTS). These are the “social, cognitive and personal skills that can enhance the way…staff carry out technical skills, tasks and procedures” (RSSB, 2020) and include skills in areas like conscientiousness, communication, control under pressure, teamwork, planning and attention management.
Let’s think a little more about attention management. Signallers may know a control panel like the back of their hand… but if they get even slightly distracted and spend fractionally too long focused on something else… will they notice a light has begun to flash? Or something else unexpected? It doesn’t matter how technically good a signaller is at managing their area, if they haven’t noticed a train in a section. This is why non-technical skills – like attention management – are just as safety critical as the purely technical ones.
At Lucid we are therefore excited to be working with Network Rail again to design a training programme that supports the development of attention management in its operational staff. As big fans of a blended learning approach, we plan to design the programme to include a range of different training formats – including e-learning packages, video segments and worksheets. In our experience, providing training content in different, but complementary styles – such as text, visual, audio or interactive – results in a wider appeal to different types of learners and also helps to embed the learning at a deeper level. This means all of Network Rail’s operational staff can really benefit from the training programme and develop their skills in maintaining attention when it matters most.