The Queensland Government has unveiled the new simulator which will help train the state’s future train drivers.
The new simulation program was purpose-built for the state’s rail system by France-based company CORYS, to provide a realistic learning environment, and features what Queensland Rail chief executive Nick Easy called “cutting edge” technology, graphics and materials.
Deputy premier and transport minister Jackie Trad said the simulator will provide a “fully immersive experience,” giving trainees the chance to drive along every route on the network on any of the trains from the Citytrain fleet.
“This new technology will help streamline training, with instructors able to test trainees under a range of conditions in an ultra-realistic environment before they hit the tracks in the real world,” the minister added.
The contract for the new technology was awarded to CORYS in 2015.
Its release, only months after the Strachan report pointed to problems and inefficiencies in the state’s driver program, came at the perfect time, according to the the transport minister.
“Improving driver training is one of the core components of our plan to fix the trains and get Queensland Rail back on track,” Ms Trad said.
The Strachan report indicated that Queensland’s train driver shortage — which lead to a mass cancellation of services after the Redcliffe-Peninsula line opened last year — was to a great extent caused by the excessively long training period undergone by the trainees.
The ABC reported in February that the Rail, Tram and Bus Union claimed the long training times were due to the shortage of trainers after the former state Coalition government made cuts to the drivers’ training centre in 2014.
Queensland Rail has responded to this issue by upskilling more than 50 current drivers to become mentors for the new trainees. The government claims this will streamline on-track training.
“After trainees complete their initial on-track training with dedicated trainers, they will complete the remainder of their supervised hours with driver mentors,” minister Trad said.
“This frees up dedicated driver trainers and means Queensland Rail can commence training new recruits earlier.”
The government reports that 106 of the 200 drivers positions needed across the train network have been filled, with another 100 candidates at other stages of the recruitment process.