CountryLink set to move into freight
CountryLink looked poised to enter the freight sector, if its 48 Class training package being rolled out by the company was anything to go by.
The RTBU recently subpoenaed a copy of the RailCorp training package that has been developed for operating 48 Class locomotives. The training is designed to qualify non locomotive-qualified drivers to operate diesel-electric trains – specifically the 48 class used as a shunting unit at the XPT maintenance centre at Meeks Road.
The training package indicates that RailCorp intends to train drivers to operate the 48 class for shunting and transfer of XPT carriages to and from the wheel lathe. It also wants to train them to be able to assist failed XPT and Xplorer sets in revenue service.
RailCorp Training has sourced train handling material for its course from a source that it refers to as the “Advanced Train Operation, OVS Training Institute 2004”. The ‘course’ describes in detail the approved train handling strategies and techniques that RailCorp training requires CountryLink Drivers to utilise – including information on how to control “slack action” while driving long freight trains.
The RTBU became immediately suspicious of this freight-specific training as it seemed to have a strong North American feel to it, and became increasingly wary when it was discovered that the techniques prescribed are strictly forbidden in RailCorp’s own Train Operations Manual for the locomotive hauling of CountryLink rolling stock – all of which must employ a lightweight transition coupler.
The Loco Division is concerned that the training prescribed by RailCorp – if employed by drivers – would cause failure of the transition coupling resulting in train separation and potentially derailment.
The concern around the training prompted the Loco Division to further investigate the “OVS Training Institute” that RailCorp Training was quoting as a credible source. A quick Google search revealed that the organisation did exist (in the USA) and further investigation revealed that RailCorp Training had simply cut and paste the material included in the 48 Class Training package from this website. It was a direct copy.
However, what is more disturbing is that further investigation revealed that the OVS Training Institute is not really a training institute at all – the OVS Training Institute is part of a Virtual Reality site that designs Train Simulator Games for rail enthusiasts to use with PC games. It has been set up to resemble a legitimate railway site but it is not. The whole organisation and its purported history is manufactured fantasy!
It would seem that RailCorp Training must have been aware of this as, during the cutting and pasting exercise, key sentences that referenced the fact that the train handling techniques described differed from those used on “real trains” were completely omitted!
The RTBU has since written to NSW Trains over the content of the ‘course’, and whilst it has been withdrawn from circulation there remains a number of important questions in relation to how it managed to get through NSW Train (RailCorp) Quality Training Management System (QTMS) and Safety Management System.
Interested members can have a look themselves at the ‘training institute’ at www.ovsrails.com. You might pick up some useful techniques for operating a Microsoft train simulator – or a 48 Class at CountryLink…
We will keep members informed as the issue progresses.