New Commuter Rail Locomotive and Control Car Simulators to Further Improve Engineer Training

New technology is an investment into safety and commuter rail performance

BOSTON – July 23, 2018 – Keolis Commuter Services (Keolis), the MBTA’s operating partner for commuter rail, and the MBTA recently completed the design, construction and testing of a new locomotive simulator lab to provide advanced training for engineers. The lab consists of a classroom, control car simulator and locomotive simulator, which is constructed from the cab of a retrofitted HSP46 train.

“Our new locomotive and control car simulators are state-of-the-art tools that will help us further improve engineer training and commuter rail performance,” said David Scorey, General Manager and CEO, Keolis. “In this new lab, we can create realistic situations on the railroad that we want our current and new engineers to experience. It helps our team be even more prepared to operate commuter rail trains and respond to challenges more quickly and effectively for our passengers.”

Depending on the direction of travel, engineers operate commuter rail trains from either the locomotive or the control car, which is the last coach car in the train set. Engineers are already training in the lab, and 12 engineers will complete the first official program using the simulators on August 19. Over the next several months, all new and existing engineers will participate in similar training in the simulators.

“Investments like this demonstrate our never-ending commitment to improving upon our culture of safety,” said MBTA General Manager Luis Manuel Ramírez. “Embracing technology like this new simulator lab helps us to re-create situations under life-like conditions and will help bring our training modules to the next level.”

Located at the MBTA and Keolis office in Somerville, Mass., the simulators re-create the exact profile of track infrastructure, platforms, stations and buildings along the network. Seat vibrations, sounds and a 360-degree visual experience create a realistic training environment. The controls and features inside the locomotive simulator and the control car simulator match what an engineer would see on a real train.

“Together with Keolis, we are investing into new and more resources across the commuter rail network,” said Jody Ray, Assistant General Manager, MBTA Commuter Rail. “This new simulator lab is another positive example of how our close collaboration is benefiting Keolis’ commuter rail workforce and as a result helping to further improve service to our approximately 125,000 daily passengers.”

Instructors can adjust the environment to any time of day, reflecting true-to-life light or dark exposures, and implement varying weather conditions, such as rain, snow and the fall season when leaves and debris create slippery rail conditions. Previously, engineers would train in these conditions only when weather allowed. Today, with this new simulator lab, engineers can train in any weather condition any time of year. As part of this new program, engineers will spend 40 hours or more in the simulator, as well as continuing to utilize hands-on training with a supervisor on a train.

“We are pleased to partner with Keolis to help deliver this investment that will improve safety and training on commuter rail,” said Ryan D. Coholan, Chief Railroad Officer, MBTA. “Having spent a lot of my railroad career as a locomotive engineer, I can attest to the benefit of having this industry-leading training tool here in Boston.”

Design, construction and testing of the locomotive and control car simulators took several years to complete. A ribbon-cutting was held on June 6 with representatives from the MBTA and Keolis.