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PostPosted: Tue Nov 09, 2004 15:35 
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Rod Evans wrote:
With modern technology and utilizing GPS the need for a signalman is removed. By simply having direct communication with the driver and he with the track situation ahead would be enough to provide a safer system. With the flip gates in the down obstructed situation the driver would be aware that 90 seconds ahead the track is blocked and he or the auto pilot system would apply the brakes thus stopping the 100mph train in 72 seconds. If the obstruction sensor cleared during the brake sequence the train would return to speed.


OK, first problem is that you're now not just talking about modifying the crossings, you're also introducing a new comms system between signalling and driver, and an autopilot. That substantially raises the cost of implementation. Yes, in cab signalling is planned for introduction at some point in the future, and yes, automatic train control systems do exist on some lines, but you're talking about making them mandatory across the entire system, on every type of train. That's not something which is going to happen any time soon.


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This whole problem is childs play to sensor and circuit up, I have apprectices in their first year working on more complex issues than this. No self respecting company would be so cavalier as the rail industry appears to be when hundreds of lives are at stake!!.


The rail industry doesn't want casualties any more than the rest of us do - if people are put off travelling by train because of a real or perceived threat to their safety, then the industry loses out on all that ticket revenue. But the railways are already very heavily regulated and already spend crazy amounts of money on implementing safety schemes which provide very little in the way of actual benefits. There comes a point where you just have to accept that it's become too expensive to reduce the risk any further given the probability of an incident and the likely casualty figures, and to be quite honest I think the railways passed that point a long time ago. Yes, this incident was horrible, but let's not blow it out of proportion. 7 people lost their lives. 10 more are in a serious condition in hospital. Around 300 people were involved in the incident. Rail accidents are rare. The chance of being killed or seriously injured is low. Rail travel is still a very safe form of transport.


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This is no different than a fully loaded plane trusting to luck that the runway they are landing on is clear


Runways at busy airports are expected to have other planes and ground support vehicles on them at regular intervals, which is why you don't give landing clearance unless you know the runway is clear. Level crossings on busy roads are expected to have road vehicles and pedestrians on them at regular intervals, which is why they're all monitored and interlocked with the signalling.

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or trusting to luck that the sky ahead is clear to fly into.


The big difference here is that the only other thing an airliner is likely to encounter once up at cruising altitude is another airliner or military aircraft, both of which are governed by the same rules and controls regarding which bit of airspace they should be occupying at any given point in time.

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Luck playes no part in the air industry


Depends who you listen to... some insiders suggest it's more luck than anything else which has prevented a major accident at certain airports (e.g. Heathrow) which would surely cause far FAR more devastation than any train crash.

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communication and technology are put to work and the result is the safest form of transport available.


Yet whenever there's an incident involving an airliner, the media hype machine swings into action just as it does with a rail incident, making sweeping accusations about how unsafe the industry is and demanding Something Must Be Done!!! Meanwhile, significantly more people are dying as a result of accidents, infections etc. that would cost considerably less, and be far easier, to prevent.

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The rail industry needs to take a look at the cost benefit equations and add in the unmeasureable personal costs to bereaved family and friends of those who die because someone trusted to luck on their behalf.


And what makes you think they haven't already done that? Yes, we could make rail travel safer than it already is, but we're at the stage where we'd be spending millions (if not more) for incremental improvements. And if we're prepared to spend that much on saving a handful of lives each year, then why the hell aren't we already spending that much on the emergency services and NHS in order to save even more lives each year?


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PostPosted: Tue Nov 09, 2004 22:29 
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The original post is about making it more difficult to get on the tracks. Well ok, but does that not make it more difficult to get off them?

I don't know what that trained weighed but I would guess there was nearly 500 tonnes there. And the car weighed, what 1.5 tonnes? So how in the name of god does a 1.5 tonne object cause such devastation to a 500 tonne train? Yes the train was pushing on a bit, but would it not be beyond the wit of man to design a train that can push aside obects on the line?


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PostPosted: Wed Nov 10, 2004 12:51 
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adam.L wrote:
So how in the name of god does a 1.5 tonne object cause such devastation to a 500 tonne train?


From what I've read/seen in the news reports, the initial collision didn't cause the damage, just a derailment - but probably only of the leading set of wheels. It was when just after the crossing, the train then passed over a set of points, that the leading powercar left the track completely dragging the rest of the train with it. If the stretch of track after the crossing had been a plain straight or gentle curve, chances are the train could have stopped safely with most of the carriages still on the rails, but a derailed set of wheels travelling at high speed coming into contact with pointwork is never a nice combination to have.

There have been level crossing incidents where the train has pushed the obstructing vehicle aside without causing a derailment, but in this particular case the combination of being hit squarely by the front of the train and the close proximity of the points made it more likely that derailment would occur.

By the way, I wouldn't describe the outcome of this crash as "devastation". Train crashes do look like a complete mess, with carriages lying on the ground at unusual angles, but take a look at the state of each carriage - most of them look almost as if they've been carefully placed there, rather than having come to rest following a high-speed high-energy crash. From the photos published so far, only 2 of the 8 carriages have sustained obvious major damage, and based on the outcome of previous crashes, it wouldn't surprise me in the slightest if the majority of the remaining 6 carriages, plus one or both of the powercars, are able to be repaired and put back into service.


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PostPosted: Thu Nov 18, 2004 19:12 
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on sections of line with speeds of 125, level crossings have been declared unsafe and bridges built.
Simple solution - apply this to all level crossings above a certain speed.
If(NOT IF,THEY ARE) cars and trains are an unsafe mix -keep them separate.

OR ALTERNATIVELY - some form of "vehicle counter" that counts vehicles into the crossing area and then out.
But the main problem is that trains take a lot longer to stop than cars.
Rubber to tar has friction, metal to metal has a lot less.


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