Commentary Driving is used to demonstrate understanding and knowledge – typically demonstrated by Train Drivers during an assessment. Commentary Driving is not mandatory. Risk Triggered Commentary (RTC) is used when Train Drivers encounter situations where there is an increased risk of an operational incident.
Commentary Driving is about giving yourself a running commentary, whilst driving, of everything you are doing and why you are doing it. It is basically voicing all those things you would normally do and think about while driving.
For example: ‘Taking Power Notch 2 to counteract the uphill gradient just ahead of this signal.’
Commentary Driving would be useful for:
– Refreshing your short term memory. This is particularly useful when multi-tasking to ensure several pieces of key information can be remembered and acted on accordingly.
– Raising your concentration levels should they begin to dip at the end of a long shift, or if the cab is very warm, for example.
– Safely getting a train out of service which is being worked by a Train Driver because of defective on-train equipment such as ATP.
– Assessments, as it allows your assessor to ‘get inside your head’ and find out not just what you are doing, but also why you are doing it.
– Someone who has become practiced in the technique will give the assessor excellent evidence regarding their professionalism not only in regard to operation of the train, but also their route knowledge. The technique allows you to display competence at both levels – not only the ‘what you must do’ but also the ‘why you must do it’. Or ‘underpinning knowledge’ regarding the task.
How to do it:
Start off slowly and build it up. If you start when approaching a braking point for a station, for instance, then talk yourself through it – where you are going to brake, what brake step you are in, the planned stopping point in the platform, which side your platform is on, any risks at the platform, your speed progress from initial braking point to stopping – and add in as much other information you deem relevant. Keep up your commentary until your train has come to stand.
Each time you try it, vary the location and build up the length of time you commentate. Depending on the location, the amount of information you add in will vary. It is not about how much time you spend commentating, but the relevant information you can get into your commentary.
There are risks involved when using Commentary Driving. Whilst using running commentary is accepted good practice as identified through the rail industry, it does have the ability to act as a distraction if it is overused. Train Drivers should not use it for their entire shifts, but it is useful to use in targeted bursts during instances mentioned.
Always stop your commentary if it is causing a distraction to you.
It must not be mistaken and used as Risk Triggered Commentary (RTC), which is covered in the next blog.