This paper discusses the development of a user-centered control stand for the Federal Railroad Administration’s (FRA) Next Generation Locomotive Cab (NGLC) demonstration program. A “modified” Association of American Railroads (AAR) 105 side-mounted control stand was used as a starting point to facilitate bidirectional locomotive operation. Researchers applied a variety of qualitative human factor methods, including literature review, naturalistic observation, computer modeling, and heuristic evaluation, to design the improved control stand. The final design included a decluttered side control stand, a short desktop with three-panel front touchscreen displays that can accommodate and integrate current and future locomotive train technologies, and an overhead ceiling panel that replaces, in part, controls and displays traditionally located behind the engineer on the back wall. A mockup of the revised control stand design was fabricated as part of this program to demonstrate the human factors and ergonomic improvements. Researchers conducted structured interviews with locomotive engineers to validate the user-centered design approach. The engineers engaged in interactive scenarios that assessed the functionality of the workspace. The usability results provided the opportunity to improve upon the initial NGLC user-centered design. Changes included minor relocation of controls because they were in the reach path of other controls. Certain frequently accessed controls required relocation to more accessible locations. The LCD displays were redesigned with respect to information groupings and visibility issues. Feedback revealed that the transition from mechanical operations to electronic operations will result in the loss of auditory cues inherent in mechanical operations. The researchers suggest simulating auditory cues to promote personnel transition from mechanical to electronic operations. The results of this usability assessment identify the opportunity for future R&D cab integration efforts and demonstrate the importance of user-centered design and usability assessment in these efforts.

This content is only available via PDF.
You do not currently have access to this content.