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Rail News Home C&S

October 2022

Rail News: C&S

Technology update: Crew management software

Shown: A view of MaxAccel's SafeTrack Crew system schedule.
Photo – MaxAccel


Compiled by Julie Sneider, Senior Associate Editor


GIRO Inc. aims to help passenger-rail operators worldwide improve efficiency, most notably through its HASTUS software. HASTUS is a flexible and modular solution that integrates planning, scheduling and operations management for all modes of public transportation.  

In recent years, the GIRO team has increased its emphasis on ensuring that HASTUS meets the evolving needs of passenger rail, company officials said in an email. 

According to GIRO, railroads are focusing heavily on three key areas of crew management: 

• regulation compliance, such as for hours of service, collective bargaining agreements and business rules. Compliance with regulations governing those three issues is essential;

• staff empowerment, which has become increasingly vital since the global pandemic began, and automated work distribution that can consider employee preferences and availability. Both are important features for achieving flexibility; and

• efficiency in planning and assigning work, which is a constant need. 

HASTUS' AI/optimization and decision-support capabilities enable railroads to optimize the fundamentals of rail planning and operations, timetables, rolling stock and personnel. 

Clients can tap those capabilities to improve schedules and roster on-board and station staff; plan work shifts that comply with union rules, staff qualifications and fatigue regulations; reoptimize shifts, if needed, to adapt to timetable changes while keeping them similar to already approved original shifts; empower employees via the software’s web bidding feature; and allow employees to submit preferences for assigned shifts and duties, and request shift swaps and vacation exchanges from a cell phone. 

Currently, more than 100 rail operators in North America, Europe and Asia-Pacific use HASTUS to adapt to rapid changes, manage rolling stock and workforce, and improve service quality, company officials said. In the United States, HASTUS is deployed at various passenger-rail systems, including Bay Area Rapid Transit, the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority, Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority and Chicago Transit Authority. 


MaxAccel recently announced the addition of its new SafeTrack Crew application to the company's SafeTrack platform. At its core, SafeTrack Crew manages job scheduling and crew assignments, including vacancy management.  

The web-based system provides common crew management functionality such as employee certification status, extra boards, transactional history, employee communications, hours of service compliance, job/territory qualification and payroll with claims and arbitraries with additional functionality planned, MaxAccel officials said in an email. 

The SafeTrack Mobile smartphone app will offer a range of benefits to train and engine employees and SafeTrack customers, they said. Real-time job and extra board status will inform employees of their upcoming work assignment, along with supplemental information important to their quality of life.  

The mobile app currently manages Part 217 Efficiency Testing, Part 243 OJT, safety audits, distribution of electronic rule books, bulletins and other important communications in cellular-connected and offline modes.  

For the railroad industry, SafeTrack Crew represents the "next-generation crew management solution — an easy-to-implement and easy-to-use, highly functional system supporting railroads large and small," MaxAccel officials said.  

SafeTrack Crew will offer a more economical and streamlined crew management system, tailored to meet the needs of customers and the market in general, they added.  

PS Technology 

Recent events in the rail industry have created an environment in which helping engineers and trainmen achieve a better quality of life is important. To address those needs, PS Technology (PST) has developed some plug-in applications for its CrewPro crew management system.  

The first addition is TradeTurns, a mobile application that enables engineers to swap a given assignment without involving their local union chairman or the time it takes to make phone calls and wait on hold. The idea is to provide engineers more control over their own schedule on an on-demand basis, PST officials said. 

A user can select another worker and click "trade." All union regulations, qualifications and seniority agreements are maintained, and records are kept of the swaps. If the recipient declines, the requestor is notified and can choose another potential candidate. A TradeTurns action can be accomplished with four taps on the mobile app. 

For railroads that don’t want full autonomy, the TradeTurns system can be used. But instead of an automatic acceptance, requests are sent to the local union chairman for review and approval or denial.  

The second addition is PAL™, which is an acronym for "pre-arranged layoff." For engineers and trainmen who have scheduled service obligations such as military reserve assignments, PAL can be used on their mobile devices to notify the crew management system in advance of the required leave.  

The PAL feature is viewed as beneficial for the crewman as well as the railroad: The engineer has easy access to the crew system and the railroad gains a steadier, less volatile supply of available workers, PST officials said.

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