Fatigue Management Plans - Requirements and Assessment Guidelines


One excellent example of a FMP is demonstrated by the CANALERT project. Several years ago, Transport Canada began to address fatigue issues and charged the various railways to develop policies and procedures to deal with their crew rest and fatigue problems. Through the combined efforts of Canadian National, Canadian Pacific and VIA Rail, in conjunction with the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers, a task force was formed and Circadian Technologies was hired to provide assistance. As a result, a pilot project in Calgary and Jasper was initiated in 1995 called CANALERT. Various aspects of this program could be included in FMPs developed by the railways.

Time Pool Scheduling: With traditional crew scheduling, employees assigned to handle trains “over the road” are called for duty at any time around the clock. The CANALERT project set up three time pools or specific blocks of time for locomotive engineers to designate when they would begin their next assignment. Engineers starting their assignments between 5:00 and 15:00 were called Larks. Those starting between 13:00 and 23:00 were called Owls and those between 21:00 and 07:00 were called Cats. The calling windows were only in effect for assignments beginning at the home terminal. Returns to home were governed by the traditional first-in/first-out policy.

A protected zone was established for the times when an engineer on a given schedule would be most likely to experience fatigue. An engineer was permitted to take a return train home without rest only if he could be guaranteed to arrive before the beginning of his protected zone. Otherwise, the engineer was required to rest for at least three hours at the away-from-home terminal. Finally, a “special protected zone” was created to ensure that protection was available for engineers traveling during a time when fatigue might be a problem. During this special zone an engineer was permitted to take a nap if they felt the need to do so.

In addition to time windows, engineers were assigned a regular work schedule. Each engineer worked one day and was off the next. In addition, two assigned days off were built into each 28-day schedule. These assigned days off were built into the regular work schedule and therefore resulted in at least three consecutive days off. Engineers were also allowed to book up to eight hours rest at the away-from-home terminal.

Improved Rest Facilities: Existing bunkhouses were stationed next to the train yards. The bunkhouses at Blue River, B.C. were given specific improvements, including added sound-proofing to interior walls, blackout curtains, and white-noise generators.

Enroute Napping Policy: A napping policy was put into place. Whenever a train arrived at a siding where a delay was expected, the engineer could notify rail traffic control and request a 20-minute opportunity nap. Engineers were provided with mattresses and blindfolds to aid in “napping.” If the engineer was continuing to operate during the time of the protected zone, a negotiated nap was permitted.

Terminal Napping Facilities: Rest facilities with comfortable chairs in a quiet location were established in the Calgary and Jasper terminals. These were available for engineers to rest as they waited for their trains or before driving home at the end of a trip.

Lifestyle Training and Individual Counselling: A four-hour training program called “Managing a Road Lifestyle” was developed for employees and their families.

Effective April 27, 1997 the East (Brooks) and West (Laggan) districts began operating as time pools with three specific time windows of operation. Please note that the agreements for Engineers and Conductors are almost identical. Employees who bid into these pools were required to specify their preferred time pool within the specific pool. Employees are assigned to time pools according to seniority basis. The crews operated on a first in first out basis with each time pool having a window that overlapped the next time pool by one hour. During this overlap period crews could continue to be called from the earlier time pool until it was exhausted. Crews would then be called from the next time pool during the overlap period.

Pool Overlap Duty Period Total Duty Cycle
Lark 0500 –0600 0600 – 1500 1 hr + 9 hr 10 hr Window
Owl 1400 – 1501 1501 – 2359 1 hr + 9 hr 10 hr Window
Cat 2300 – 0001 0001 – 0559 1 hr + 6 hr 7 hr Window

Figure 7. Canalert Time Pool Duty cycle

The time pools were designed to minimize the likelihood that a person would be working in a time period that interrupted their natural circadian rhythm. The Protected Zone was identified as part of the CANALERT 95 project to be the zone during which, according to a person’s circadian clock, they would be most likely to fall asleep. These time windows were designed with the intent of minimizing the impact on a person’s natural circadian rhythm. Or, put another way, this zone is the time at which the person would most likely be sleeping and therefore, the most likely time for a person to receive recuperative sleep.

To prevent and protect employees from being on duty at a time during which they would usually be sleeping, employees who have not had at least three hours of Circadian Rest (rest during their Recuperative period) should complete their trip prior to the time of the Protected Zone. The Protected Zone is that time that was established as being the most likely recuperative period for the employee. The recuperative zones for the various pools were as follows:

  Overlap Duty Recuperative Zone Protected Zone Special
Lark 0500 – 0600 0600 – 1500 1700 – 0900 0300 – 0700 0100 – 0300
Owl 1400 – 1501 1501 – 2359 2000 – 1200 0700 – 1100 0400 – 0700
Cat 2300 – 0001 0001 – 0559 0800 – 2100 1800 – 2200 0400 – 0800

Figure 8. Protected Time Zones

In addition to establishing these recuperative zones and protected zones, labour and management agreed that the normal running times of certain classes of trains (expedited vs. general freight) should be considered when calling a person for duty. For example, an employee in the Lark Time Pool at their away from home terminal is called at 2130 hours to handle a lower speed train. Under normal circumstances the employee might wish to accept the call in order to get home promptly. However, the CANALERT ’97 agreement precludes the employee accepting the assignment, as the person would require at least six hours completing the trip. This would cause the employee to be on duty during the Protected Zone.