Safety for Trains

About CFL

Chemin de Fer Luxembourg or CFL, is the passenger train company of the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg. CFL train drivers needed to be trained on several topics on safety and security. But because of budgetary constraints train personnel could not be taken off the job for any longer than absolutely necessary. So in order to train them faster and better CFL turned to eLearning from Jilbee.

The Challenge

Complex Scenarios based on Legal Regulations

The procedures we had to cover in the eLearning were very complex and were based on legal regulations dating well into the late 1970s. The regulations were drafted by lawyers and did not much reflect the day to day implementation that train personnel face when following these regulations.

Furthermore, the procedures were very technical and train technology had changed since the regulations became law. Our challenge was to create Learning scenarios which would reflect the spirit of the regulations but would still remain true to the way trains are driven in the 21st century.

Simulating accident scenarios … with REAL trains

A great challenge was to find a way to simulate accident scenarios which train personnel could face in a real life situation. The scenario CFL had in mind was not one where two trains collide or a train derails but rather something more technical – eg the overheating of a brake causing smoke to come out of a running train. The great challenge was to figure out a way to simulate this … with a real train.

Making the scenarios believable

Before CFL turned to Jilbee to build an eLearning solution, they provided the same training to their personnel in the classroom. Below you see the trainer showing a “simulation” on a white board of a train with overheating brakes.

Our challenge was to make the scenario in the eLearning believable. This meant we had to film a real train with smoking brakes. We would not be able to rely on animations or static content with images. This would have to be a proper film requiring split-second precision to capture a train running at 60 to 80 kmph. with smoke coming out of its brakes.

The Solution

Instructional Design: Building clear step-by-step procedures from legal regulations

The planning for the project was a very challenging exercise. We need to take the legal regulations and rebuild a step-by-step scenario which could both occur in real life and was covered by the regulation. Adding to the complexity was the fact that often times there was a deviation from the legally-correct way of following a procedure and the in-practice implementation of the same procedure.

Over countless meetings with CFL we finally arrived at a point where all learning scenarios were defined and we could move to the planning and scheduling of the filming of these scenarios.

Re-creating Safety Scenarios … with CFL employees

Some of the safety scenarios were relatively easy to recreate. Below we see snapshots from the videos where we see a train driver getting off the engine in an incorrect manner. In another snapshot we see another train personnel walking to close to the tracks and a train is approaching from behind.

In each of these scenarios we worked with employees of CFL rather than with professional actors and this worked out very well because these were dedicated folks and they knew precisely how to perform their job.

Using special effects to create realism: Smoke Bombs to simulate overheating of brakes

The most challenging scenario was the one where we had to show the overheating of the brakes. Our team came up with the idea of placing smoke bombs right next to the brakes of the train and then exploding them just as the train passed in front of the film camera. Below you see the location where the smoke bombs were placed.

And in the image below you see a snapshot from the video with the train barreling next to the camera with smoke (from the smoke bomb) coming from it.

Long Filming Days

The filming of the trains was the most exciting and risky part of the project. The days were invariably long – often starting at 6am and ending at 10pm.

Throughout the duration of the filming we had access to a train and train personnel and we could move the train anyhow we wanted until we got all the shots we needed to build the eLearning videos.


The Results

Higher engagement of the learner (the train drivers and other personnel)

The eLearning was a hit among train drivers who had until them only receiving boring training in a classroom. The training department of CFL immediately saw a higher level of learner engagement with train drivers asking more questions than usual and having a more animated discussion of the scenario amongst themselves when the eLearning videos were used in a blended learning scenario.

Lower the cost delivery training

By making the training available online, CFL did not need to pull its drivers off the field just for the sake of training. CFL personnel could take the training whenever they were not working on a train and this reduced the training-related downtime of the personnel.

Lower accident rate/Better reaction in the event of an accident

The main goal of the training was to prepare train drivers for accident scenarios which could occur in real life and to sensitize them to safety issues which could arise as a result of their behavior. If train personnel are more vigilant and are able to react faster and better in the event of an accident, a tragedy can be averted and then the primary goal of this eLearning would be achieved.