New state-of-the-art train simulators are being used to train 768 Greater Anglia drivers that will be driving the new trains due to replace all of the company’s existing fleet from later this year, when it starts to receive 38 bi-mode and 20 all-electric trains from Stadler followed by 111 more electric commuter trains from Bombardier.
Four new simulators, each worth £1.6 million, have been installed at its driver academies in Norwich and Stratford.
Already, 185 drivers from Norwich and Cambridge have completed the six-day course to learn to drive the new Stadler bi-mode trains that are replacing all diesel trains on rural routes.
The course includes three days of class room and simulator learning, followed by three days of driver training on the trains themselves.
The simulators, two supplied by Transurb and two by Sydac, are constructed to feel like an actual train cab, with the controls looking and functioning exactly the same as in the new trains themselves. Realistic CGI animation is shown through the windows of the view ahead and from the cab’s side windows as the train ‘drives’ along routes. Several of the Greater Anglia routes have been recreated on each simulator, the first time that drivers have been able to experience real routes on a simulator.
When the train ‘stops’ at a platform, two screens switch on and show video from internal and external CCTV, so the driver can check everyone has got safely on and off the train before opening or closing the train’s doors.
If a train is longer than the platform, the software onboard automatically selects to open only the doors next to the platform.
If it looks like anyone needs assistance, the driver can inform the conductor, who in real life will be on board the bi-mode trains assisting customers, giving them a helping hand to get on and off the train if they need it, answering enquiries and selling tickets.
Drivers on the simulator are given a number of different scenarios which they might face, including encountering animals on the line, varying weather conditions and customers on board needing emergency help.
For the first time, drivers will be able to control the temperature on the train, either switching on the air conditioning or turning up the heating.
Greater Anglia business readiness director Andrew Goodrum said: “We’re getting 169 brand new trains, with three different models. While the trains are still being made and tested, we’re preparing our drivers to be able to play their important role in the transformation of the railway.”