USA: The Federal Railroad Administration has awarded an ‘indefinite delivery, indefinite quality’ contract running to May 14 2017 to Alion Science & Technology as part of its accident reduction research initiative.

Worth up to $10m, the contract covers research to assess ‘human performance in rail operations and maintenance’. Alion will provide specialist expertise to assist FRA’s Human Factors Research Division, and it will specifically address ‘equipment and technology, organisational culture and behaviour, policies and system performance’ before producing a series of recommendations for FRA.

These will then feed into FRA’s wider research on reducing incidents of trespass and level crossing misuse. ‘People can get distracted or need to make quick decisions based on the unexpected, from weather to track conditions to trespassers or cars approaching crossings’, explained Terri Spoonhour, Senior Vice President of Alion’s Distributed Simulation Group. ‘Our expertise in human-systems interaction will help us determine where improvements can be made, both in technology and in employee training and performance.’