Scaling Virtual Training: SJ Trains Thousands of Railway Staff in VR
SJ, founded in 1856, has transported people around Scandinavia for almost two decades. As the market-leading train operating company, SJ connects Sweden and is the gateway to Scandinavia’s capitals of Stockholm, Copenhagen, and Oslo.
SJ was looking for a solution to the problem of the low level of hands-on engagement and repetition in their training programs. According to the ‘Forgetting Curve’ formula by Herman Ebbinghaus, approximately 70% of memory from training is lost within the first 24 hours if there is no attempt to retain it. In the case of SJ, repetitive training is challenging due to costly and tedious training requirements. Another difficulty SJ faced was that trainers were unable to recreate incident situations and to expose trainees to these situations. Hence, it was particularly hard to develop new train conductors’ critical awareness and incident responses.
To resolve these challenges, SJ collaborated with Vobling to develop an educational VR training program. Vobling virtualized multiple train models in SJ’s fleet, as well as protocol-based procedures such as departure procedure, brake test, train heating connection & disconnection, various safety training etc. To recreate the immersive and realistic virtual environments, virtual trains had to be as close to real ones as possible, therefore all 3D models inside and outside the trains were built based strictly on referral CAD files, photos, and physical visits. Vobling also created emergency scenarios such as fire outbreaks and high current leaks to allow SJ train conductors the opportunity to practice these rare but important scenarios.
The assessment comes after each training session where trainees can get instant and consistent feedback on their operation and performance. If need be, trainees can repeat the training scenario as many times as they wish until they are satisfied with the results.
The VR training program lays the foundation for the addition of more scenarios and train models that may be added in the future
SJ had set up 17 VR-stations across Sweden and trained a total of 3.000 employees in VR. This VR training system makes SJ’s training better, safer, and more cost-effective. The immersive experience of a carefully created training solution provides its onboard staff and train drivers access to situations, locations, and equipment that are customarily challenging to experience. The realistic audio and visual environments presented through VR give trainees a sensory feeling of ‘being physically there’.