ABATEMENT OF LANGUAGE BARRIERS
The Language Programme was initiated by RNE in December 2017. During 2018 the programme defined distinct situations to focus on:
- IM-IM communication at national level
- IM-RU operational communication
- IM-IM communication at regional level
- RU-RU operational communication
Together with Union Internationale des Chemins de fer (UIC), European Rail Freight Association (ERFA) and the European Union Agency for Railways (the Agency), RailNetEurope is addressing these situations separately. At the start of the initiative, it was proposed that IM-IM communication at a national level and IM-RU operational communication will be the first focus of the programme. The two focus areas are being addressed in parallel.
The goals of the Language Programme are to:
IM-IM COMMUNICATION AT A NATIONAL LEVEL
For IM-IM communication at a national level, the current focus is on the implementation of English-speaking dispatchers within the national traffic control centres. It has been agreed that at least one English-speaking dispatcher will be available in each shift at the national traffic control centres from January 2020. This person will be in contact with other national traffic control centres to inform each other about irregularities and other information important for daily business.
According to a recent survey, IMs are progressing in the English training and the availability of dispatchers able communicate in English is improving. Progress is being monitored every six months and the results are reported regularly at the Traffic Management High Level Group meetings.
Today, when Railway Undertakings (RUs) are operating across borders, they must relate to regulations in Directive 2007/59/EC. The Regulation makes it mandatory for train drivers operating across borders to be fluent in the IM language of the foreign country at level B1 (Common European Framework of Reference for Languages standards). This leads to high costs and is time-consuming for the Railway Undertakings. Besides that, there is also a general lack of train drivers across Europe. To be able to recruit more drivers and to facilitate crossing borders, it is of great importance to find a solution which helps the railway industry to compete with other modes of transport in Europe.
SET-UP OF THE IM-RU COMMUNICATION SITUATION IN THE LANGUAGE PROGRAMME
From August 2018, three sub-groups have acted within the programme where several technical solutions were discussed. The sub-groups were working on the following areas:
- Pre-defined Messages
- Translation Tool
These sub-groups addressed the three topics differently and on a more detailed level than the Language Programme Working Group. At Language Programme Working Group meetings, results, potential problems and risks are addressed to the whole group including RNE, IMs, UIC, the Agency and ERFA.
In the middle of 2019, an adaptation of the existing sub-working groups was required. Following this need, five new sub-working groups (sWG) were proposed and created. Their work is focused on supporting the language tool development, especially its pilot testing.
The schema of the current sWGs is illustrated below.
The main task is to develop a functional language tool which will cover the set of pre-defined messages and allow to communicate in railway jargon while maintaining the safety level as it is today. The language tool is proposed to exploit the achievements of artificial intelligence and take the best practices from other industries in language translation. The current timeline for the IM-RU operational communication is displayed below.
FOCUS LATER IN THE PROGRAMME
The IM-IM communication at regional level and RU-RU operational communication will be addressed later in the programme.