Crew Resource Management (CRM) Training for the Railroad Industry: Summary of Work – 2003-2007

Close up of three men reviewing paperwork at a job site.Crew Resource Management (CRM) is a human factors (HF) training process that has been employed in the commercial aviation industry for over 25 years.  During that time-period, CRM has been credited with contributing to a marked decrease in HF-caused accidents.  TTI researchers were involved in a multi-year project for the Federal Rail Administration that focused on adapting CRM for use in the railroad industry across all job functions and crafts.  This work consisted of three major phases:

Phase I- Railroad Industry Observation and Job-Function Classification

TTI researchers assessed the structure of existing teams at a representative cross section of railroad companies in the U.S.  The project identified the make-up of common workplace teams; described the interaction of personnel assigned to those teams; documented and evaluated existing human factors/CRM training programs at the North American Class I railroads; and identified obstacles to introducing CRM training more widely in the railroad industry.  The final report on this phase of the work outlined the available training methodologies that could be used to implement CRM.  A copy of this report may be obtained at the FRA’s website:

Phase II- Design and Pilot-Testing of CRM Training Materials

Picture of railroad workers laying tracks.TTI researchers designed and pilot tested a multi-track training program for a variety of railroad job functions/crafts.  This phase of the project included the development of a facilitator-led, scenario-driven, core curriculum based upon the recommendations of the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) for rail-based CRM and the desires of the railroad industry covering technical proficiency, situational awareness, communications, teamwork, and assertiveness.  Scenarios directly relating to each of these aspects of CRM varied for three different training tracks (with example crafts in each):

  • Transportation:  locomotive engineers, conductors, dispatchers, switchmen, brakemen
  • Engineering:  section and production gangs (Maintenance of Way), signal maintainers
  • Mechanical:  machinists, electricians, pipe fitters, carmen

Final products for each track included a PowerPoint®-based training presentation with student and instructor manuals.  Additionally, TTI performed detailed analysis of the pilot testing of the course materials and documented the results in a final report.  A copy of this report may be obtained at the FRA’s website:

Training Materials

The student and instructor manuals for each training track are now available in PDF format.

Engineering Track

Mechanical Track

Transportation Track

Phase III- Business Case/Utility Analysis of Implementing CRM in the Railroad Industry

Picture of a train approaching a curve in the tracks.Researchers used a utility analysis method to quantify the anticipated benefits to the railroad industry if CRM training were to be more broadly adopted.  TTI researchers tested the utility analysis model using airline industry data and then applied the model to NTSB and FRA accident data from the railroad industry.  The study found that CRM training can have net positive benefits at both the industry and individual railroad level by reducing the overall costs associated with HF accidents.  A final report documenting the findings of the study and sensitivity analysis of several parameters was also submitted and has been posted on the FRA’s website:

For more information

Curtis Morgan
ph. (979) 862-2854