I work on the railways, and i feel totally safe at all times.
I hear some shocking stories of the way Network Rail go about their business but it is all stories.
The main concern for me is when fully competant staff such as Train Guards are involed in industrial action.
Managers and retail staff are 'trained' to act as Train Guards to keep the service running. These Temp. Guards have as little as 6hr training, compared with 15wks for a fully competant Guard.
A Guard needs to know every station, signal, tunnel, junction, speed restriction and the 100's of ticket types and different classes of trains we have to work.
The temp. Guards are only shown the station locations or as near to them as the manager training can get.
There competance is often allowed to laps, and when industrial action is taking place this compentance suddenly becomes valid again, with no refresher training being undertaken.
I for one would not travel on a train with one of thes acting guards on the back, it is not safe nor are they!.
The problem with trains, and for that matter planes or buses, is that they carry an awful lot of people. Therefore, if something goes wrong it goes wrong for potentially hundreds rather than just a handful. That is why train crashes make the news without exception whereas the numerous car crashes which have no doubt occurred today are unlikely to even make national papers.
The recent train accident in Cumbria was very unfortunate, and I feel nothing but sympathy for those involved. However, I also feel great sympathy for anyone killed, injured or scared on the roads today.
In a one hour trip the other day I had the 'pleasure' of umpteen stupid people overtaking dangerously on a windy road, and a moterbike almost hitting me when also overtaking at a bad time. If I had wavered slightly in any of these cases there would more than likely have been a bad accident. And that is one of the advantages with trains - being fixed on a rail means no overtaking and no wavering!
Also, everyone on a train is in the hands of just a few individuals, generally the driver and people involved in the signals. These people are trained and monitored, and you know that safety checks are in place. However, if going by road people are all around you also driving at speed. Any one might be drunk or driving without a licence or in an unsafe car. Nobody else checks these people are safe. And, of course, the drivers are likely to be distracted by screaming children, roadside advertising, mobile phones and all sorts of other hazards. Drivers in cars are also not subject to working regulations, and don't need to have breaks or time off for meals. Hence tired car drivers with lack of concentration often.
No, there may be problems with train travel, but given the options I think it's the way to go!
What a shambles. Potters Bar must be added to the tragic litany of avoidable disasters that have happened since the break-up of British Rail in 1996. Seven dead - seven families bereft of their loved ones; scores of people injured, some critically ill, and all of them destined to bear the physical or psychological scars of this horrific experience for the rest of their lives. Whereas the direct cause of the accident remains to be established - incompetent maintenance and slipshod safety inspection seem likely - the ultimate cause is clear, just as it was at Hatfield in October 2000: this is what happens when public services are run to satisfy private greed, when, as a result of the politically motivated fragmentation of the industry, everything, including safeguarding human lives, must take second place to the interests of shareholders. The response of Railtrack - Cynical prevarication, false information and frantic buck-passing (sabotage - of course). The response of Steven Byers - still, miraculously, a member of the Labour cabinet? Just as in the worst days of the Tory government, this ultra-Blairite New Labour minister, grotesquely over-promoted on the grounds that he was a ?safe pair of hands?, refuses to accept responsibility for anything. It is always somebody else?s fault. Adding insult to injury, he rejected the justified calls from Bob Crow, general secretary of the RMT, and others for a full public enquiry. Instead, he told the House of Commons that this tragedy was just a 'one-off', a 'freak' accident, something therefore nobody could possibly have foreseen. Yet even when the findings of the health and safety executive?s investigations are made known, understandable doubts and anxieties will remain. What we do know is that when the 12:45 King's Cross to King's Lynn service passed over points outside Potters Bar station at around 100mph on Friday May 10, at least two of the vital nuts that secure
the stretcher bars operating the points were totally detached. At first, Railtrack was not even able to say which firm was responsible for maintenance on this section of track. Sabotage was canvassed as a possible cause. Later, it emerged that Jarvis Rail, part of Jarvis plc - one of the 'principal contractors' who have made millions out of maintaining the physical infrastructure of the rails since privatisation - was the company in question. Jarvis admitted that the same nuts were found to be missing on May 1, nine days before the accident, but that they had (allegedly) been securely replaced. The points, according to Jarvis, were given a further visual inspection just one day before the derailment and were supposedly found to be in order. It turns out that a railworker member of RMT had warned management about the state of the track more than three weeks earlier. No action was taken. Earlier still, a commuter had contacted Railtrack to complain about the unstable track. Weeks later, he was contacted with an unbelievable request to help Railtrack out by supplying precise information as to the whereabouts of the problem. As the truth begins to emerge, the sorry state of our railway becomes clear. Post-privatisation, some 110,000 workers employed by around 1,500 different firms are involved in maintaining the railways on the basis of work subcontracted by the likes of Jarvis and Balfour Beatty. These casual workers, many of them recruited in pubs and clubs, have no experience and receive a bare minimum of training. Despite repeated warnings from the health and safety executive about employing staff whose level of competence fails to meet the required standard, the principal contractors (motivated by profit considerations) continue to cut corners. Jarvis's shares fell by 14% immediately post Potters Bar, as investors worried about the company's liabilities. But in the period since Jarvis became a principal contracto
r for rail maintenance, its shares had trebled. Rich pickings indeed for the parasites who boarded this gravy train. Many of them, having taken their profits, will be waiting to pile back in at a lower price, once the 'fuss' over Potters Bar has been forgotten. Meanwhile the Tories and their press shed crocodile tears, while gleefully blaming the whole affair on the 'demoralisation' of management caused when Railtrack was put under administration. How many more lives are to be sacrificed on the altar of private greed? What is to be done? Not only Railtrack - currently in limbo under administration while it waits to be sold off to a government-backed and government-funded buyer - but -all train operating companies must be immediately taken out of the hands of the profiteers and renationalised. We must force the state to act now to safeguard railworkers and passengers alike. However, I dont not hark back to the 'golden days' of the bureaucratically run British Rail. The industry must be brought under the control of its workers and those who use it. With the backing of their unions if possible the workforce on the rails should take action to bring trains, the whole railway infrastructure and its working practices under their direct control. Extending democracy to the rails is no utopia, in fact I would argue it is neccersay if we are to avoid further acidents of the magnitude of Potters Bar.
A land where trains are safe, clean and reliable? There is no such place you may be thinking. Well yes there is: Japan. There is no reason why the same levels of safety could not be achieved in Britain. BACKGROUND The Japanese railways started springing up around 1875 and were based on British technology and rules (so we did get things right at one time). They developed slowly and steadily and have never gone through a period of decline like Britain. The Japanese railways were quasi privatised about 14 years ago. There is still government control, but it is split into 6 regional companies. Japan is mountainous, and occasionally very snowy, there can be hurricanes, typhoons, earthquakes and volcanoes, but the record of reliability and safety is still achieved. No complaints about leaves on the line here! After a run of large accidents on the Japanese railway pre-1960s sparked a government rethink about safety. In 1964 the first high speed train began operating between Tokyo and Osaka. The Shinkansen is now the most densely operated intercity line in the world, with departures in the order of every four minutes (285 departures per day), operating over a distance comparable between that of London and Edinburgh, with speeds approaching 300 km/hour. The annual average deviation from the train schedule is 0.4 minute per train. A journey on the Shinkansen feels exceptionally smooth, it is comfortable, spacious and the customer service is impeccable. COMPARISON Japan has 9 times the number of passengers of UK trains per kilometres travelled but the trains are ultra reliable. E.g., Tokyo and London subways are similar in size but the Tokyo subway moves 3 times the number of passengers per year. Fares are similar to those in the UK, so the high volumes of passengers are not because of low fares. Japan?s record for passenger safety is about 200 times better than the UK a
nd European averages. PEOPLE Japanese railway companies see safety as a prime objective. It is a cultural issue as to be seen to be ?unsafe? would be unacceptable. There is a strong desire on behalf of everybody to improve. One of the reasons that the system is operated so safely and punctually is because of the staff. There is a great training plan for employees, and a team spirit with a high degree of commitment and motivation. Training is seen by the drivers as an integral part of their work and they show full commitment to being trained. When signing on, drivers are questioned by their supervisor to check their understanding and knowledge of speed restrictions and other matters concerning their routes. Most commuter trains have a glass partition between the driver and passengers, so the commuters can monitor the drivers. The Japanese train travellers are more obedient than those in Europe. There is a social order. There is little or no graffiti and vandalism is not an issue, unlike the UK. Japanese culture is about living in harmonious groups and not as individuals. The public is more tolerant. However, the orderly behaviour of the public can be influenced by design. Give people well-designed systems, provide them with information and good service and they appreciate their lives being made easier, thus behaving more orderly. HARDWARE The Japanese rail infrastructure is constantly and consistently renewed. Some 95% of the rolling stock is less than 10 years old. Rail failures are rare. Cheap solutions are not seen as appropriate. E.g., Shinkansen trains are fitted with 25% extra traction equipment to provide the reliability levels required. They don't run at maximum speed so the wear and tear is reduced. The ride quality is superb. The philosophy has been to design for high quality and hence reliability. To see failed equipment is a rarity. CONCLU
SION If Japan can do it why can't we?! The railway system is just another aspect of British life that is falling behind the rest of the world.
Just three stations from Hatfield, we have yet another twisted wreckage in Potters Bar station from what looks like another cracked rail. The driver reported the rear wheels hitting something near the back of the four-carriage service which experts suggest ninety percent of the time is broken track. With five already dead and many critical, who are Railtrack and their vulgar lawyers going to blame this time. Stephen Byers job now is about as safe as the station bridge that has a train carriage hanging on top of it with dead bodies sprinkled around from the impact. The same expensive lawyers who ganged up on mass on the driver who ended up on the track through a one million to one road accident and got six years for the freak accident, will be busting a gut to let Railtrack of yet another incident they are clearly liable for. There were 107 people in the rail operators and Railtrack legal team during the Hatfield trial who used every trick in the book to stack the blame on the driver and staff like they did at Paddington and before. Railtrack walked away with no chance of any corporate manslaughter charges sticking, and enormous bonuses for their trouble. But we all know the embattled financially knackered rail service is again going to walk away from this with no one held accountable. 84% of rail passengers tend to be concentrated in and around London with it statistically most likely to produce a crash. This train journey is a mid day tourist journey to Cambridge which would be packed with foreigners and academics/locals. These people don?t deserve a dangerous and under funded pile of crap that is our national train service. No one seems to take the blame when these crashes happen. Directors are allowed to resign and walk of into the sunset with a ton of cash. The next public inquest will find that vandals stuck something on the track or yet again a rail cracked because it hadn?t been replaced during the recent
radical repairs. A tarpaulin lays over the guilty piece of rail as nervous engineers and train managers start scribbling the resignations or passing the blame around the never ending circle. The services around here are always late and dirty with a good chance of getting robbed on, during or after the trip. A season ticket is ludicrous and with all the new regulations about to go in place yet more of that cost will be passed on to you and me. One good thing to say is that maybe the government will think again about delaying the train protection system they are trying very hard not to implement
As a police officer, im surprised that the jury in the case where the guy fell asleep and ended up on the Selby railway line went with a guilty verdict. Usually in a tragic accident like this the judges are sympathetic and are minded to lean the jurors to not guilty or a lesser charge. Judging by the amount of lawyers present throughout this trial in Leeds,i get the impression he’s been served up as a scapegoat to allow Railtrack to escape anymore punishment. The previous two smashes involving the embattled company also involved great numbers of lawyers who this time put their collective back into a not guilty for a charge of a corporate manslaughter. It was proven in subsequent inquiries that Railtrack were negligent through poor safety and bad management procedures. Yet most of the directors of the time were allowed to leave the company with vulgar pay off from a company losing 2 billion pounds of taxpayers money a year. .I think its fair to say that the state has ganged up on the little guy here to avoid yet another costly embarrassing public inquiry. The judge has sensitively bailed him over Christmas and New Year, which perhaps suggests he to was surprised at the verdict. In my constabulary we have a busy train line and occasionally have obstructions by vandals, suicides or vehicles, mostly broken down farm machinery. A couple of these involve impacts in my twenty years service. But all were deemed acts of God or minor innocent accidents with only two reaching court. The driver Gary Hart may have been asleep at the wheel for leading a hectic lifestyle like most of us. But the train driver of the Paddington crash went through a red light whilst believed to be dozing. The West York’s police did a good job though in their investigation. But plenty of workers and drivers miss sleep to do the job or get through the week. A lot of our pursuit lads may only have two or three hours kip on duty
and that may be one of the reasons why pursuit vehicles are amongst the highest group of vehicles involved in smashes. One in five road crashes are down to sleep related reasons with people seven times likely to crash between 2am and 5am.400 people a year suffer or cause accidents this way. Ok so its fair to say sleep driving is nearly as bad as booze driving. So if drug and depressant’s cause substantial accidents to then why are the government telling us (Met) that we should turn a blind eye to cannabis in certain poorer areas of London. Drivers are whizzing around out there on all sorts of concoctions and illegal substances. Yet we have no real powers to stop them. The amount of time and money the WYPF spent on this case was our whole car crime budget for a year here. The trains are as crap and late as ever with one in three are running late. It appears its better to run up fines now the government has taken over as the fine revenue is going to them anyway. Before you found that Railtrack and the train operating companies would cancel services instead of the hundred pound fine everytime it was late at the station. Once the train’s late for one platform theres not much chance of it regaining the schedule. Now that New Labor have whipped control out of the hands of private share holders will the service be deliberately run down so it crashes. Something very similar seems to be going on with the Post Office a e-mail and rival couriers have dispersed their once printable stallion. I can see the railways being radically shrunken down to just suit the profitable season ticket commuters and frieght lines,regardless of everyone else.
Catching a train in Britain is as testing as the bloody annoying Diane Pretty women that wants to die. Well the whole nation wants you to die to girl!,the husband doesn’t look to clever either.Why not put your chair on Clapham junction,or further still buy a train ticket. If the highcourt doesn’t do anything about Railtracks failed crusade to wreck our chuff chuffs, its pushbike time with the veggies to work folks. How come though, the raff of the crowns bought down on the guy who allegedly fell asleep at the wheel causing the Selby train collision. Is the little guy again going to pay for corporate manslaughter as Railcrap didn’t fence the track off, err under a motorway!. Driving without due care or attention as he’s charged with sound rather ironic if you ask me. The guy fell a sleep at the wheel!, its not as if he planned to drive down an embankment to park in front of a high speed train. Railtrack has been conveniently broken up under the guise of war so it can’t take any of the legal blame for the poor engineering and maintenance in the courts. The rail operators and track owners have always been allowed to turn their back on safety, pour that cash flow into stabilizing the share price. And at times of need of good leadership and management, the bosses up stakes with massive bonuses. As the private investment is unlikely to get a return, most of the payout to greedy directors is pouring from the public purse. It seems the worse they run the railways, the less they are accountable. We now have the farcical situation where the crumbling company needs three billion a year of taxpayers money to stay a float. That’s equivalent off all the smokers’ revenue a year. New Labor and their spin-doctors took the chance of the cover of war to dump shareowners that had only just bought into an issue. That share release was allowed because there was
no threat of the company being closed down. If any government ministers and MPs who were party to that decision off loaded their portfolio’s interest in the company should be strung up. That same spin doctor who released that infamous e-mail who works behalf of Stephen Byers is at it again trying to save her bosses ass from what seems highly illegal. Theres no way that Railtrack should have made a share issue if the government knew it was going to be worthless. After some serious legal maneuvering, it seems Byers and Brown are going to free up some cash for a final dividend payout. But you can bet your best shirt that the big institutions and friends of Brown will be paid up first. The left overs will be thrown to the masses who have smallholdings and are predominately Rail employees. If Blair and New Labor aren’t going to look after the workers after this shambles, then what chance has the health service. It cost twice as much to ride on a train to Edinburgh from London than a plane. Its currently 156 pound return business class to Ryanair from the city airport basic 80.We have the worlds most expensive public transport according a significant recent survey with the most costly train service. The roads are jammed with speed cameras and the school run with private money spinning tolls and motorways on the way. Trains should be cashing in with competitive fares with petrol prices falling. Now is the time for a revolutionary effort to get people back on trains. If you travel in Spanish trains you can go from Barcelona to Africa for thirty bucks. Their trains are on time and pristine clean in the city as are a lot of other conventional European cities. Has anyone got the rules to that Dailymail train ticket promotion that was running last month. If you have lets us know the lines its available on.Cheers.
I think the government is totally out of order crashing Railtrack the way they have. If it wasn’t for the war they wouldn’t even have considered this radial crazy step. The lawyers won’t be taking anything into account as they hit back hard on behalf of the shareholders left out of pocket. And we all know who will be paying for those guys and girls at 150 quid an hour. Punters really should have dumped their stock by now though as the disastrous company was going down the pan anyway. But when they offered a recent share issue to mug punters before the war it defiantly didn’t look like the same people were going to pull the plug then. When you invest in State supported industries that are critical to the running of the country efficiently you don’t expect this. Ok the organization and running of the rolling stock and track has been abysmal under Railtrack with profit over safety a must. The toothless regulators came and went and we knew that any serious attempt to get on top of safety would cost the company way too much. But Hatfield pushed everyone’s nerves over the edge and here we are now. I do feel the Railtracks thought to themselves well if you want the track to be fixed, be will we fix it, right down to every broken screw. The engineering companies all knew they would make massive profits fixing it and the gray train would continue. Balfour Beatty who were behind most of the shoddy contract work fixing the old rails have been awarded the contract for the new part privately run London Underround.Another news story slipped out under the mask of war. I presume they are healthy contributors to the labor party like Richard Virgin Branson who’s train company has also been warded a massive train contract in the chairmanships of the new Railtrack.Two companies who have prove to be poor at the job they are about to take on. Expect images of burning carriages to
go along with those of Afghanistan to be on your screens soon. The autumn period is traditionally the time when we have the most crashes. Why don’t they appoint safety controls like the airlines do. They have special investigators who make sure repeat accidents are few and far between. There are supposed to be axes in every compartment since the Royal commission asked for new regulations to be implemented. There are supposed to e less crowded trains on main lines to help evacuation. There are supposed to be new signals and training to cut back on SPADS (Through red lights). They are actually running at record numbers now. I suspect nothing has changed as the government did everything it could to support the share price over the customers. Apparently theres just as much chance of a major accident tomorrow on our railways that there ever was. They are not going to enforce the ATP train protection system and instead rely on a cheaper pointless one. I’m sure the drivers to get bored and drive through reds, maybe they are responsible along with vandals for most crashes. But don’t we need these trains to automatically shut down because of that. We know the problems and causes yet the government is not enforcing the measures needed to stop it.I get the feeling that they also trashed Railtrack as they haven’t done anywhere near enough repairs to keep the trains running safely. I reckon that it’s always been cheaper to cancel services than pay the fines for that trains repeated lateness at stations. The way the rules were,a train could be fined everytime it was late at ever station it stopped out.At a hundred pound a hit you can understand where the money was going.And why they cancel trains that are fine. New Labor are technically nationalizing the railways back into government control which kind of puts their part private public finance policies up the kyber. What big company is going to
put money in public service if New Labor pull the plug when they feel like it without warning. Looks like we are in for a long journey on that chilly winter chuff chuffs. Lots of train companies have been bought or part purchased by coach companies. They then replace train services with buses and then cancel the buses, as they are not economically viable. That’s the way I see it going for New Labor as it’s the only way to make the railways a black hole in public finances. I can see services like Bletchly to Milton Keynes getting canned or the race train from Cambridge to Newmarket in my region. The new railway system is going to be small companies owned by labor cronies who can trim the fat as they see fair. We will end up with dramatically fewer services and only on the mainlines. Very much like the American networks.
Just to let you know if you have been caught up in the war stuff before work, Railtrack has gone bust. And New Labor have shoved this hefty news through on the day the bombs fell. He’s quite good at that since September 11th with the news that we are likely to have a referendum also slipping through. New Labor have taken on the inefficiency of Railtrack recently with tougher and tougher regulation. But they have decided to it all at once by telling them to fix everything at the same time. No business can bare that cost. In the summer they were two billion in need and the government promised that in a slow trickle. But because the war is under way, they have said no more down the toilet and have wound the company up. All share holders, private and institutions have lost everything by all accounts. Imagine what effect that would have on the financial markets with out the current world conflict situation. Privatized industry doesn’t work on the whole with the people running them taken out massive bonuses as the company takes massive loses. Those losses are filled in with taxpayers money. The amount needed to save Railtrack from this collapse amounts to a quarter of the gross national product every year. And that’s just one floundering privatized industry. With the airlines collapsing and petrol set to rise again and God knows what else coming because of the wacky Muslims, will we ever get to work!. Strange how Railtrack was wound up the day before the new low price rail tickets were going to be introduced to make up for the poor service since Hatfield. Its pretty clear that theres always going to be danger on the trains and one or to will derail, if it just vandalism that cases nine out of ten crashes. What the railways need is better regulation, accountability, and an independent safety board. The one appointed after the inquiry was still indirectly controlled by Railtrack people. Lets hope the new
set up isn’t just another beuracrcy that eats up most of the countries surplus heading into asylum seeker winter recession helllllll. The government will use this chance to strip down the network to Amtrak levels like in America.Theres one or two trains a day intercity in the USAwith most people travelling by car or plane long distance. Blair would, love to gets us burning more petrol to bring in those billions in fuel tax and speeding tickets wouldn’t he. Let alone the parking fines and car tax. It happened in America under pro car governments and it will happen here.Hospitals will be next followed by social services and Policing.
OK, I admit it. This isn't one of my best, but if you'll pardon the pun, I've been railroaded into writing it by the "Change Your Opinion" option. It all started when I wanted to correct a typing error in the title of a SHORT Opinion relating to Rail Safety, and just to get rid of a error message, here I am having to put together at least 75 words on the subject. Lesson 1 - don't try to edit a short opinion!
Whilst not wishing to decry the efforts of those worthy bodies who seek to reduce the incidence of Signals Passed At Danger (SPADs) on our railways, I would however, like to put these things in context. Trains are not the only means of public transport to be regulated by an imperfect traffic control system.
I have been a frequent passenger on buses of recent months, and have lost count of the number of red traffic lights the drivers have infringed. As you will appreciate, there is no preventative measure on traffic lights at all, no spikes to burst the tyres, no brick wall emerging from a slot in the ground, just good old self-preservation on the part of the driver and fear of being caught on camera and prosecuted as a result.
In theory, this puts me, the passenger, in immediate danger of a side-swipe accident from a traffic light "jumper" at right angles to the bus. Imagine the carnage if the other offender is a truck carrying scaffolding poles. I seem to recall an accident of this very type being reported on our local, (note that, LOCAL)TV news, but that's as far as it got, despite a fatality.
This highlights the difference in media profiles given to rail and road safety. We seem to accept death on the road as a necessary evil.
Despite news coverage to the contrary, trains have had a safety system called AWS (Audible Warning System) for donkey's years. This works by forewarning a driver of an impending red signal, by sounding a klaxon in the cab as the yellow warning (distant) signal is passed. If the driver is negligent enough to ignore this, the brakes are applied. It is only in cases where the driver acknowledges this, and then fails to brake, or removes the braking effort, that may cause a SPAD, and possibly, an accident. (By the way, the London Underground has had a system for preventing the passing of red signals almost from its inception, but this is too abrupt for express trains since even an emergency stop in the LT tunnels would only be from about 35 mph.)
If AWS were to be fitted to all passenger-carrying road vehicles, it would no doubt be hailed a) as a huge advance in life-saving or b) as an infringement of our inalienable right to get ourselves killed if we so desired!
Meanwhile, back on Earth....
Most SPADs pass off unnoticed except by those whose job it is to report and log them. This is because, on the open main-line at least, the chances of that SPAD causing an accident are very slim, since you'd have to be damned unlucky to find that the train in front has stopped with its last coach just beyond the danger signal in question.
I'm not belittling the awful consequences that befall the driver/passengers when this is the case, or when a junction is involved (like at Paddington), but, playing devil's advocate for a moment, a better cost/benefit ratio for Railtrack's money could be achieved by preventing waiting passengers from falling/jumping off the platform. OK, this probably applies more to the London Underground where the heat frequently makes people faint, but it's point worth making, I think.
By all means try to eradicate the very last SPAD, even if it does take ten of millions, but for goodness sake, how about giving some more thought to all the other ways that railways can kill us?
1. Greater care when repairing fences would stop all kinds of wanderings, accidental or otherwise, onto the line.
2. Reverting to the older kind of level crossing where the signals would be set to danger until the road is halted and safely closed off. Better still, work with councils to eradicate level crossings!
Not many people realise that modern crossings have no interlock between the railway signals and the state of the road. I.E. "the traffic stops if there's a train coming, but there's nothing to stop the train if the traffic keeps coming", therefore if you ignore the "yellow box" at your peril, and if you get stuck there in your car, the only way out is to "leg it" PDQ!
Anyway, apologies for the unstructured ramble, but as I said at the beginning, this was one "op" I hadn't meant to write, and it was all done "on the fly" without the help of MS Word!
I'm a bit of a train bof, I read train magazines and my father works in the railway industry. They are safe, and while nothing is ever 100% safe, they are a lot safer than Car or Bus. They run along rails and cannot swerve into other trains and they are signalled so they don't run into each other. There have been years without many accidents and then a few happen in a short space of time and suddenly railways are dangerous? Where would you rather be? On a train in the rain, knowing that the driver is fully trained and people in a signal box control where you are going to make sure you don't crash, or in a car, knowing that only a single person is dirving a vehicle with poor grip and could just swerve 3 metres and kill you all. Now, i know that is exaggerated, but railways really are safe. Over 175 years of railway running have made sure that they are safe. The margin for human error is small and trains don't acutally crash very often. There is only one train crash for billions of miles. So, i conclude, railways are safe, they are clean, they are comfortable. Privatisation hasn't changed anything except the financial aspect. Trains are safe, were safe, and always will be safe.
I must declare that I am an American and on this topic the American position is far different from that of my British hosts. But as many of you Britons visit America and an American Railroad...oopps sorry, an American Railway has been buying up track in britain this is pertainent. Your trains connote passengers and trains in America connote freight. We simply do not haul people around in trains, not part of our national transportation ethos, sadly. we have a great big country full of wide open spaces and need to transport our goods by rail whereas your country is all so near water and can use short haul beyond the ports. So I will still talk about Railsafety in America as in relation to the public. Just in the month of July 2001 there has been so much talk of the safety of rail transportation since a CSX train derailed in Baltimore Maryland and shut down traffic, crippled the internet and caused many people to be evacuated. Now everyone wants to talk about how hazardous trains are. The CSX spokesman had a good point. He said, "We are not hauling this stuff for the sake of moving it around" and he was right. The trains haul stuff that factories and businesses need to operate. The thing is the rails aren't the best way to transport stuff, it is the only way. Enough of you have vactioned in America to hate trucks. You know what I mean, truck trucks, not your little delivery lorry, but a gigantic 50 ton monster with tandem trailers plowing down the road at excessive speeds since the driver gets paid by mile (29-32 cents per mile). Over half of all accidents and 80% of deaths on the highway involve trucks. It is easy to get a Commercial Driver's License to drive a truck. Stop at a truck stop for lunch...not too many magazines with articles for sale and the menus have a lot more pictures than other restaurants..hmmm. Now to run a train that carries HazMat the employee needs to work as a conductor at least 1 year then
he takes a 240 hour of classroom training and simulator and then atleast 6 months of cubbing with a seasoned engineer who is especially trained to teach a new employee. The 6 months is seldom the amount of training, most men are given 9 months of training. And even then , most likely in all events the train is going to stay on railroad property. Even if an engineer is drowsy and not blowing the horn you will not get hit by a train if you stop at the railcrossings. Very rarely do trains actually derail and cause damage while trucks kill 20 people a day. I want to hear your comments on your views on big trucks in America. It is sometimes neat to look back and see my train behind me realizing it has taken a good 50 trucks of the motorways and made it that much safer for families. Sure using trains for shipping takes a little bit more time, but it costs much less. The truckers get mad because we take their work but if things were run properly all freight would run by train and then the truckers would still have short haul runs getting it from the railterminal to the locations it belongs. There is so much freight that can not move by truck; coal, sulfur, nuclear stuff, great big machines. Rail employees are always subject to random drug tests. We are terrified to drink when we are subject to call. In 6 years on the railroad I can honestly say I worked with a drunk engineer only twice. And one of them has been since fired for drinking. Do you think the same holds true for Truckers? Do you suppose they are not using drugs? We have two people on the engine over the road, talking eating and helping each other stay awake. Plus the train shuts down if we do not have any involvmnet with it for over a minute. We have an advanced crewcall system that ensures our mandatory rest periods are enforced, do you think anyone makes sure all those truck drivers are rested? The reason that there are so many accidents with passenger trains is that they are runni
ng to fast. They are too light to run so fast. There is no vertical forces holding them to the rail. A short light train will do crazy stuff that a long heavy one won't. The only thing that can be done is to improve the railroad tracks but that takes alot of money when the American people do not seem to want a national rail system. No one is going to ride on trains. We like our own passenger vehicles better. And driving would really be so much better once all the freight is off the highway and on trains!!!!
I sometime like to go on to the trains and to go places that are to far for my mum to drive to because she said that driving is a pain in the arse and pain is not very good if you have to drive to far but sometimes i donot feel really safe when i like to travel by a train A few weeks ago me and my freind went on a train to go to the town of london and there was a boy who was scratching the word twaz in to the window and i said to him please donot do that because i would like to sit by that window and look out of it But the boy turned around to look at me and used a lot of words that was not very nice and waved the screwdriver close at my face I was really lucky that my freind was with me and he grabbed the screwdriver from the boy and threw it on to the floor and leg swept the boy and then sat on his chest holding his neck and told him to apologise to me for being so mean and called him a gonad then the boy said that he was really sorry and he would not do it again and my freind held him until the train stopped and pushed him of the train and onto the station If my freind had not been with me i might have been killed quite seriously and now my mum said that i should not go on a train because they can crash as well and i have seen this on the news and then we could not have gone to the nightclub So safety is not very good on any part of the train My freind said that there once was a group called the guardian angels and they would work on the train and make it safe like the police would if they was to have more police men Here is a list of things that can happen on a train You can get cut by a boy with a screwdriver – it can crash – you can get poisoned in the buffet car- you could be late for work or to meet someone if the train is not on time My freind said that the owners of the trains are very rich but are greedy and donot like to think about there customers If i was rich i would have a train that go
es from wembley to southend and it would be so safe that john major or ice t can travel on it
How many lives have to be lost before these people start to think about the safety issues instead of the own bank balances. The subject of privitisation is a broad topic and i really don't want to go into it to deep but i have to say that history has shown that putting peoples lives into the hands of profit orientated companys is lethal. The railways have suffered horrendously since privitisation and i believe will continue to do so as these companys will only keep standards up until the subject dies down then it will start all over again. My partner was in Manchester the other day and i had agreed to meet her at Euston station as she was ladened with bags,i spoke to her whilst she was on the train and she told me that the train(VIRGIN) had windows that don't open and the air conditioning was not working. I could not believe it the next minute when she said oh they are bringing round ice cubes for everyone. The tempreture on that train must have been 90 degrees. If these companys are aloud to do this to people then how on earth can they say that they are improving safety after all is this not a major safety issue. I also have great fears regarding the PPP (public private partnership) on the underground. How can they be sure that safety is not going to be jepordised and why throw something that works really well(bar the fact that theres no air conditioning)and has a brilliant record of safety(with the exception of the Tragic Kings Cross Fire)to these profiteerers. They will after all be out to take you the passengers for a ride and get as much dosh out as possible before it all goes tits up. If people think fares are expensive now then you just wait and see what happens once they get their money making claws into the underground after all their not in it for their sense of charity or community. Keep our transport public it's the only way to ensure that safety is param
ount. Don't be fooled by their promises these private companys have blood money in their hands and pound signs in their hearts. PUBLIC TRANSPORT SHOULD BE KEPT PUBLIC
The government showed today how little they care about corporate crime by cutting the ban on cigarette advertising in the Queens speech today. They also gave cart blanche to the tobacco companies to continue encouraging children on to the cancer sticks by not passing a bill to help pay for a anti child smoking bill. This leads me to Railtrack and their continuing license to allow yet more carnage on the railways. Profit over safety seems to be New Labor policy as yet another big business and its lawyers lobbies its way into the heart of Westminster decision and policy makers. Lord Cullens scathing report maybe pointing out the obvious that the rail company were”institutionally paralyzed and heavy in incompetent management”. But this seems to be a compromise ear bashing bollocking so they yet escape a corporate manslaughter charge. Blair’s government keeps saying they will introduce a corporate manslaughter charge and heres the chance to do it. The director of public prosecution under this lot has knocked it back twice, and a third time is coming. Blairs so far up big biz bottom that he’s petrified to do anything about Railtracks continuos disregard for safety and progress over hoisting the share price. That said share price is expected to get seriously hammered over the next year and will take at least 4 billion of public money to stabilize it. That is for one year and probably the whole of that year’s balance of payment. Already this year the SPADS (going through red lights) has gone up to a pre Hatfield high, weather that’s more who gives a f***k from the “lamentable concern for safety”team. It seems the lessons have not been learnt and the pursuit for profit goes on. I’m sure there are poor drivers who doze of or stick something on the pedal as they go through amber and red lights.But if the signal’s in question cant be seen properly because of the rising sun or
new power lines, someone should have the balls to stand up and do something about it. We all know if we get on a plane or train etc theres a chance of a crash through human error or negligence. But when the big boys flick the Vs at you before and after a big disaster you would expect the government to do something about it. The double standards here are the things that really hurt..Cambridge educated Corbett, the ex chief executive who is deemed responsible for the badly run company, bagged 450,000 compensation in a million pound severance resignation pay out. The guy who ended up on the track in his range rover up north causing the Doncaster smash is up on charges!,how annoying is that . In the immediate enquiry, Corbett denied responsibility for the crash and faulty signal claiming the responsibility lay with the under trained driver who went through P106.The only way he and the other culpables would talk to the law and officials in the confessional is that would get immunity. This of course means that they can not be prosecuted in any forth-coming prosecution through the eons of proposed corporate liability law. Its fair to say that due to the size of the rail network theres always going to be a big crash now and then. But when your driver is going through Europe’s busiest junction with only thirteen days training against one of the most notorious signals and a signal box operator, who didn’t know what to do during the red light breach, its kind of obvious what’s going to happen here. Its not a nice thought to think as a rail passenger, we are costed at four million a life on the tracks so any ATP signal system is just to expensive to implement. They would rather we die than any drop in the share price and their corporate dividend. Now look at their share price. Every other major rail network in Europe has train protection and the hindsight to fit it early. Look at the chaos it could and would hopeful
ly have prevented. Mr Corbett got his million or so pay off with out a problem. Where as the next of kin to the people who died or were seriously injured had to fill in lengthy beauracratic forms with questions like, how much were the children’s presents your dead husband were going to buy cost. Or how much did your husband spend on food. I’m sure that special handshake the Oxbridge types on both sides of the Lords and legal system are exclusive to will breeze Mr Corbett out of trouble. Woolworth is the next to be blessed with the ex Railtracks chief executives cost cutting experience in a similar role. Look out for low flying shelving or unstable escalator commuters. I think we all know that rules should only be broken at work for the pursuit of profit. At the weekend,a forklift driver backed into a racking which toppled the goods onto a lady killing her stone dead.Is the driver libel or was he under trained,or should the truck have been on the same shopping space as unprotected civilians. Everyday at work we do feel as if someone else will take the rap if something goes wrong and we are somehow not libel for our tardiness and accidents. But we now know that the bigger business, the less blame they seem to get. Profit is way more important than out safety. After Hillsborough and Hiesel, football was totally cleaned up as new safety laws sprouted like the majestic stadiums. Supermarkets along side there equally modern stadiums can continue to trade regardless of icy pavements or lose cobbles. But if theres one safety problem across the road At the top premiership game, its match postponed. The scary thing is that Air Traffic control is the next to be carved up and sold to private companies. We all know where the savings are going to be made on that one. Anyone who lives in and around London should listen out for two jetliners pilling into each other, probably at the same time the next big rail crash t
akes place. And we also know that the two guys in charge will walk away again with that secret hands shake and a wad of cash.