Learning Traction

ryan125hst

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Having read about the recent issues at Transpennine Express and a lack of train crew being trained on the new Nova trains resulting in cancellations, I wondered how long it takes to train drivers and guards on new trains, or trains they haven’t driven before.

I gather that, for drivers, learning the traction involves spending time in a classroom to learn about the train's various systems in detail (electrical, air etc) and also learning how to find and fix faults that can be sorted without the unit returning to the depot. I understand that, following this, they spend a number of days practical handling so they can understand acceleration and braking characteristics.

But how long does it take for each type of train, and how much does it vary? I’m guessing it takes longer for a driver to learn their first traction type?

For example, an LNER driver would need to sign 225’s and Azuma’s, and formerly HST’s. How long does each of these take? What about the 67’s that some drivers sign, and the 90’s that some drivers have signed recently?

Presumably many Transpennine Express drivers are learning both the Nova 1’s and Nova 3’s. How long do these take, and do the Nova 1’s take the same time to learn as an Azuma or is the course quicker owing to a lack of 9 car sets which will have differences to understand?

It must be particularly complicated for Northern drivers. I’m not sure whether there’s a number of links at Sheffield, but they must sign 142’s, 144’s, 150’s, 153’s, 158’s and now 170’s and 195’s as well. For Leeds, there are electric trains to consider in addition to this. Are there enough similarities between the units that conversions are quick, or do some units require more training? I’d imagine the 170’s and 195’s require more training given that they are newer and have train management computers?

Following on from this, how does this differ for guards? I imagine they’ll need to understand all the emergency equipment and know how to fault find certain things, lock toilets out of use etc, but I can’t imagine they need to know the detail that the drivers do. Likewise, practical handling for them will be ensuring they can operate the doors? How long does it take for a guard to learn an Azuma, or a Nova 3, or a Class 158 to give three different examples?

Finally, having had a look at typical driver and guard roster, am I right in saying that they will need to get taken off their usual roster during training and be covered by those booked on spare turns (hence cancellations if drivers are off sick as well)? Do they follow their normal rest day pattern or do they work 9-5 for the classroom learning?

I admit I’ve asked a lot at once there, but in summary, the more detail the better as with so many new trains entering service, there’s a lot of this going on at the minute and I’m interested to see how it works. :)
 
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Railperf

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I know a new TPE driver who has been route learning for 2 months and started traction training one month ago. He is only learning a single traction type for now. Still some way to go until he is passed out.
 

Eccles1983

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Depends on the traction.

I did 142/150 in 2 weeks. (As a trainee)
153/156 was 2 days 158's was 2 days.
175 was 2 weeks.
319 was a week.

That's a rough guide. The 14/15x are much of a muchness. The 17x are completely different so it was irrelevant what I had learnt before with regards to physical traction elements.

Once you've got the basic systems in your head (as a driver) you find similarity with most DMU's. You tend to look for the differences.
 

Astro_Orbiter

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Usually one class is base traction (for drivers anyway) that is the longest and then all others are a variation of that. When there's big changes though for example going from old stock to new stock with TMS and DOO etc it can take longer than just a conversion course.
 

craigybagel

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Depends on the traction.

I did 142/150 in 2 weeks. (As a trainee)
153/156 was 2 days 158's was 2 days.
175 was 2 weeks.
319 was a week.

That's a rough guide. The 14/15x are much of a muchness. The 17x are completely different so it was irrelevant what I had learnt before with regards to physical traction elements.

Once you've got the basic systems in your head (as a driver) you find similarity with most DMU's. You tend to look for the differences.
Similar for me, but then by the sounds of things you transferred over to my TOC. As a trainee driver I signed 150 as my core traction. Conversions to 153 and 158 took 1 and 4 days respectively. 175s took 2 weeks as they're a world unto their own. Class 67 & DVT training is a 3 week long course.

On the guard side it is indeed a lot simpler. None of the units took more then a few hours each as part of general guard training, and MKIIIs were a seperate 2 day course that was only done when you'd been out working other trains for a few months at least.
 

Kneedown

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It depends on the traction, and also the experience of the Driver. When I did my driving course the basic traction was the class 56, and we had 4 weeks learning all the various systems, layouts, preperation procedures, fault finding etc, all in great detail. Upon passing the course the next loco we learnt was the class 58, for which we were given 3 days as they were so similar to the 56 (internally!) For all the various loco's after that we had a week with the exception of 37's for which we had 3 days due to similarities with 20's.
Moving forward in time to 1995, and a move to Nottingham, the Sprinter course was a week in the classroom followed by a week or 2 handling. The bulk of this course was the 150, with day long conversions to 153, 156 and 158. When the 170's arrived we were given 3 days classroom and 2 days handling.
HST's was a classroom week, followed by 20hrs handling time which could take 2 weeks depending on circumstances (train failures, other trainees on your planned train etc)
It is important to note that classroom time will include practical looks and walks around the traction where available. This can be as simple as a short walk down to the sidings, or as time consuming as having to travel down to Cricklewood to catch a static HST.
My last traction course was the 222 last year. It was, again, a classroom week followed by 2 weeks high speed handling. On this course there was much more emphasis on the TMS ( train management system) through which most of the sorcery happens and is controlled. For a technophobe like me I will confess I found this challenging.
To sum up, the length of any course will depend on the similarity to previous traction driven, and will be agreed between management and the unions beforehand.
 
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trolleyman

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From base traction if a 150, 165/166 was 2 days classroom, 2 days driving with a DI and a 1 day pass out.
150 to IET was 8 days classroom, 4/5 days (up to 20 hours) driving with a DI, 1 day SIM day and 1 day driving pass out.

totally really depends on traction.
 

BowesRanger

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Is there a limit to how many types of traction a driver can sign for at any one time?

I think in aviation, commercial pilots are not allowed to be current on more than one type at a time, but obviously there's quite a practical difference between aviation and rail transport.
 

notadriver

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Compare that to a bus or a coach driver where you basically get given a walk round the he vehicle and maybe an hours drive in the thing if you’re lucky.
 

St. Paddy

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Back in BR days, my basic traction was a 47 for which we had 9 weeks in the classroom followed by 10 weeks driving with an instructor although that could be on all sorts of traction and passenger, parcels, freight including loose coupled and shunting in yards. Following that, it was conversion courses on other diesels which were mostly a week apart from DMUs which were 2 weeks and HSTs which were 3 weeks.
Then there was a basic EMU course on 313s for 4 weeks followed by conversion courses to 312s and 317s which were a week, 365s and 321s which were 2 days, 387s and 717s which are 8 days unless you sign 700s in which case, you get 2 days on 717s.
 

craigybagel

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Is there a limit to how many types of traction a driver can sign for at any one time?

I think in aviation, commercial pilots are not allowed to be current on more than one type at a time, but obviously there's quite a practical difference between aviation and rail transport.
No limits. I suspect the record for most traction is Northern at Leeds, which I believe is something along the lines of 142,144,150/1,150/2 (AFAIK they're treated as two different trains), 153, (not sure if still current on 155 or 156?), 158, 170, 195, 321/322 (I'm assuming these are treated as one traction?), 331, 333.

Plenty of places around the country where drivers and guards only sign one traction of course.

In commercial aviation I think it varies a little between countries, and also in terms of what constitutes a different type. Many airlines have pilots flying both the A320 and A330 families at the same. Some airlines have the same with 777 and 787, although in both of those cases the cockpits are pretty similar between the two families. You won't normally have pilots current on two completely different designs.
 
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PHILIPE

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No limits. I suspect the record for most traction is Northern at Leeds, which I believe is something along the lines of 142,144,150/1,150/2 (AFAIK they're treated as two different trains), 153, (not sure if still current on 155 or 156?), 158, 170, 195, 321/322 (I'm assuming these are treated as one traction?), 331, 333.

Plenty of places around the country where drivers and guards only sign one traction of course.

Sure 155s and I think 156s having been lost have come back on their cards but somebody from the area might confirm.
 

sw1ller

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Compare that to a bus or a coach driver where you basically get given a walk round the he vehicle and maybe an hours drive in the thing if you’re lucky.
min the HGV world, if you have a licence, cpc and digi card, you’re good to go. It’s why there’s so many bridge bashes (running round with the suspension raised for example)

as a trainee train driver, we did 1 week on 150’s, 1 week on 158’s and 2 weeks on 175’s. but this had no real world practical handling (sim only, which is garbage imho). All the practical handling was done in your 265 hours driving with an instructor. Which is more than adequate.

as a qualified driver we did the 153 course in half a day with less than an hour of practical handling. During our 175 course we had a very experienced driver that helped test and introduce the 175’s. he had to do the full 2 week course with us, I don’t know how much practical handling he did but I saw him driving one on his own a few days later so it wouldn’t have been much. (He moved to a depot that didn’t sign 175’s and came back)

so, there’s many different variables. Some take 1 day, some take 4 weeks or longer. They could shorten most courses and just put a detailed manual in all the cabs. We only get 60 seconds to fault find on our own anyway, then we have to speak to control.

for instance, we spent a whole day learning about how the gearbox on a 158 works when in reality all I need to know is how to manually move it from FnR with the bar!
 

ryan125hst

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Back in BR days, my basic traction was a 47 for which we had 9 weeks in the classroom followed by 10 weeks driving with an instructor although that could be on all sorts of traction and passenger, parcels, freight including loose coupled and shunting in yards. Following that, it was conversion courses on other diesels which were mostly a week apart from DMUs which were 2 weeks and HSTs which were 3 weeks.
Then there was a basic EMU course on 313s for 4 weeks followed by conversion courses to 312s and 317s which were a week, 365s and 321s which were 2 days, 387s and 717s which are 8 days unless you sign 700s in which case, you get 2 days on 717s.
Compared to the other replies, I am surprised to see how long traction training was in BR days. I would have expected things to be quicker back then if I'm honest as I'm sure things are more rigorous today. Was it the shear number of works you were expected to do in the Class 47 that required such a long course (total of 19 weeks) as you were driving the same locomotive for passenger, parcels and freight which would have had different acceleration and braking characteristics, stopping points etc, or does that include some route learning as well?
 

craigybagel

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Compared to the other replies, I am surprised to see how long traction training was in BR days. I would have expected things to be quicker back then if I'm honest as I'm sure things are more rigorous today. Was it the shear number of works you were expected to do in the Class 47 that required such a long course (total of 19 weeks) as you were driving the same locomotive for passenger, parcels and freight which would have had different acceleration and braking characteristics, stopping points etc, or does that include some route learning as well?
AIUI, in BR days you had to really understand everything about how a loco/unit worked because if it broke, it was down to you to work out what was wrong with it and how to fix it. Nowadays drivers aren't required to have anywhere near that depth of knowledge. At my own TOC for example you only have 60 seconds to try and diagnose a fault yourself before you must contact maintenance and follow their instructions. Obviously some degree of knowledge is required to carry out those instructions (like knowing where to find whichever cupboard or isolation cock or whatever it is they want you to go looking at), but you've got a lot more help available at the other end of a phone then you did before.
 

ryan125hst

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AIUI, in BR days you had to really understand everything about how a loco/unit worked because if it broke, it was down to you to work out what was wrong with it and how to fix it. Nowadays drivers aren't required to have anywhere near that depth of knowledge. At my own TOC for example you only have 60 seconds to try and diagnose a fault yourself before you must contact maintenance and follow their instructions. Obviously some degree of knowledge is required to carry out those instructions (like knowing where to find whichever cupboard or isolation cock or whatever it is they want you to go looking at), but you've got a lot more help available at the other end of a phone then you did before.
I guess this was needed before the days of mobiles. It wouldn't be as easy to listen to instructions via signal post telephone, walk back to the loco, do what you have been told, and then walk back and ask what to do next if it still wouldn't work!
 

Llama

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That 19 weeks was a basic general traction course incorporating 47s as 'core' traction, not the length of time it took to learn 47s.
 

6Gman

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No limits. I suspect the record for most traction is Northern at Leeds, which I believe is something along the lines of 142,144,150/1,150/2 (AFAIK they're treated as two different trains), 153, (not sure if still current on 155 or 156?), 158, 170, 195, 321/322 (I'm assuming these are treated as one traction?), 331, 333.

Plenty of places around the country where drivers and guards only sign one traction of course.
When my father was driving at Crewe (1966-77) he signed:

Diesel locos: 08, 24, 25, 40, 47, 50
Electric locos: 81-87
Diesel units: Blue Square
Electric units: Class 304

And steam ... :D
 

Llama

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Nowadays all the blue square DMUs would be counted separately on a traction card.

150/1 to /2s (or vice versa) only need a brief, they're the same units with a dozen or so relevant differences.

321s and 322s are separate classes of unit.
 

Kneedown

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Is there a limit to how many types of traction a driver can sign for at any one time?

I think in aviation, commercial pilots are not allowed to be current on more than one type at a time, but obviously there's quite a practical difference between aviation and rail transport.
No limits as far as i'm aware. Pre privatisation I had 13 classes on my traction card (08, 09, 20, 31, 37, 47, 56, 58, 60, 150, 153, 156, 158)

These days it's just 5 (153, 156, 158, 222, HST)
 

Neptune

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321s and 322s are separate classes of unit.
321 & 322 are classed the same although separate on traction card. No additional training was required when they arrived from Scotland. Diagrams state 321 on them although it could be either.

Our traction cards (for conductors) at Leeds are:-

142 (no booked work)
144
150 (both sub classes classed as one)
153
155
156 (no booked work now but do still turn up on Calder Valley)
158
170
195
321
322 (classed as 321)
331
333

Can any other depots beat that for traction signed? I suspect there will be somewhere.

The conductor 195/331 training was 2 days. One day in the classroom then one day when we were let loose on them. I personally signed 331’s in with paper brief for 195 differences (in the cab only).

Not sure if TPE guards get longer on their new trains.
 

craigybagel

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Only other depot I can think of that might come close are the loco links at Cardiff Mainline for TFW. There is one link out of about 6 for drivers that signs locos, and on the guards side a small link has just been created that will sign them as well. In theory their traction card will look something like:

142
143
150
153
158
170 (not 100% if the drivers have learnt this yet - I always get a bit confused with the multitude of links at Cardiff but I think that link signs Cheltenham so will need it)
175

Drivers also sign 67s and MKIII DVTs on top, soon replaced by MKIV DVTs. Guards have been learning MKIII coaching stock, which will soon be replaced by MKIV coaching stock. The guards have nothing to do with the loco however.
 

craigybagel

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When my father was driving at Crewe (1966-77) he signed:

Diesel locos: 08, 24, 25, 40, 47, 50
Electric locos: 81-87
Diesel units: Blue Square
Electric units: Class 304

And steam ... :D
I'm currently doing my handing hours with an ex BR Crewe man. His former train card is similarly ridiculous (everything from 20 to 92 on the loco side, various DMUs modern and not so modern) - fascinating to hear about! Makes the 4 things I'm expected to sign from day one pale in comparison :lol:
 

Mag_seven

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When my father was driving at Crewe (1966-77) he signed:

Diesel locos: 08, 24, 25, 40, 47, 50
Electric locos: 81-87
Diesel units: Blue Square
Electric units: Class 304

And steam ... :D
Must have been a pleasure to drive real trains!
 

Raul_Duke

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This is fascinating! Can you "fail" to learn a type? if so what happens?

a follow up question: once you are "signed on" how long does your competency with that type last and how is it refreshed?
Theoretically it’s possible, but unlikely.

Now whether someone has purposely failed to learn a traction because they don’t want certain jobs that come with is is a different matter....

You normally get a traction exam with your rules. But it’s not very in-depth, mainly where things are located, what relay faults will cause an engine to shut down on an HST for example. (It’s the same question sheet every time....)

With regards to refreshing, it’s something that the railway lags behind the modern world in quite badly. Once you’ve got your rules and traction then that’s it, you’ll be assessed but not refreshed. It’s up to you to keep it up to date.
 

DarloRich

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Theoretically it’s possible, but unlikely.

Now whether someone has purposely failed to learn a traction because they don’t want certain jobs that come with is is a different matter....

You normally get a traction exam with your rules. But it’s not very in-depth, mainly where things are located, what relay faults will cause an engine to shut down on an HST for example. (It’s the same question sheet every time....)

With regards to refreshing, it’s something that the railway lags behind the modern world in quite badly. Once you’ve got your rules and traction then that’s it, you’ll be assessed but not refreshed. It’s up to you to keep it up to date.
cheers! That is interesting. Are you provided with time to read new manuals or absorb updated maintenance info or is that something you have to do in your won time at home?

I am sure no one would purposely fail a course to avoid a job. Outrageous. ;)
 

Raul_Duke

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cheers! That is interesting. Are you provided with time to read new manuals or absorb updated maintenance info or is that something you have to do in your won time at home?

I am sure no one would purposely fail a course to avoid a job. Outrageous. ;)
There’s a “Matters Technical,” board at booking on points, I believe ours was last updated sometime in 2017..::

If anything urgently changes then a notice will be put in the general notice case.

If anything bigger changes, barring new traction, eg HST’s from another operator arrive and have a few fairly minor differences, then you’ll be provided with a brief to read, paid a set amount to read it in your own time and then sign to say you’re happy with it.
 

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