11 March 2011
Japan earthquake news
Patrick Crozier

Rail up the spout. Roads unaffected.  There’s a lesson in there somewhere.

31 January 2008
Half a million rail passengers delayed for several days at Guangzhou
Brian Micklethwait

If you find your trains sometimes to be late and always to be crowded, try putting up with this:

China’s most important railway, Jing-guang Railway (Guangzhou-Beijing), cannot reopen to traffic for 3 to 5 days, due to the power supply cut in Hunan Province and the aggravated snowy weather in the regions along the line, according to the Guangzhou Railway Group. Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao has gone to Hunan to inspect and oversea the situation.

Some 500,000 people have been condemned to waiting in Guangzhou for their trains. Passenger accomodation sites in the city are in good order and there are no crowds seeking refunds.

For the time being, all seems well.  But this blogger, who has pictures of various bits of the teeming thousands, reckons it will soon turn much nastier:

Because of the vastness of the situation, it was very hard to get a decent photo from the ground ... the pictures I have here only tell the story from a short vantage/viewpoint.  It is important to click on these pictures and to examine what lies beyond the initial view of the shot…what you will see are people.  Thousands and thousands of them.

I worry that as these people run out of money and grow more and more frustrated, tired, hungry, cold and wet, things will come to a boil.  You can imagine what will happen with these crowds once the first trains are announced on the loudspeakers ... the crush of those wanting to get tickets or those that have tickets trying to get through in time to catch the train.  It will be ugly ... no doubt.

I heard about this when Instapundit linked to the story.  Half a million people.  Half a million.

01 December 2007
Live Rails
Rob Fisher

The London Paper today has a story (unfortunately not linkable) about a man named Tim Burke who pulled a man to safety from tube tracks at Gloucester Road.  Apparently the man fell down there during a row, and was frozen rabbit-like at the sight of an oncoming train.  Burke says:

I instinctively went to help.  I jumped down and grabbed him but he was rigid with fear.  I led him across two tracks and tried to lift him up and then people on the platform lifted him up to safety.

While I admire the getting on and solving the problem attitude, what confuses me about this story is that neither man was electrocuted by the live rails.  The tube uses a four rail system.  I find it implausible that it’s possible to fall onto the tracks, and be led across two tracks, one of which was presumably the central live rail, without getting a zap.  The central rail is at -210 Volts DC.  I’d expect a nasty burn at least.

It’s important to know, because my instict would have been to stay well clear of the fallen man and advise others likewise.  It’s easy to judge the relative dangers of approaching trains, but the danger or not of live rails remains a mystery.

22 October 2007
Again with the doors not opening
Brian Micklethwait

This time, what happened was that the train overshot its landing at a scheduled stop, and only the last half of the final carriage was next to the platform.  And once again, guess what, they refused to open the doors even of this one carriage, to let people off who wanted to get off at that particular station.  (It was our old friend leaves on the line which had put the driver off his game.) Would be exit-ing passengers had to go on to the next stop, and then take another train back.

This would never have happened in one of those old trains, with horribly clunky but independently hand operated doors, instead of the centrally controlled doors they have now.  Suddenly, these new carriages take on the air of prisons.

Squander Two tells the story.  It wasn’t so much what the guard said that got him angry, as the way that he said it.  ST didn’t, as they used to say, care for the fellow’s tone.

17 May 2007
The obvious answer
Brian Micklethwait

As Amit Varma says, you’ve got to love a headline that goes “Train passengers asked to get out and push”:

Hundreds of Indian rail passengers got more than they had bargained for when the driver of their train asked them to get out and push.

It took more than half an hour to move the stalled electric train 12 feet so that it touched live overhead wires and was able to resume its journey, officials said on Wednesday.

The incident occurred in the eastern state of Bihar on Tuesday after a passenger pulled the train’s emergency chain and it halted in a “neutral zone,” a short length of track where there is no power in the overhead wires.

Which is all perfectly logical.  This could happen to any train operator.  They did exactly the right thing in asking the passengers to assist.

Here in England, if anything similar occurred, the passengers would have been delayed for far longer.  That’s because India is now a self-help we-can-do-it society, while England is now a what-are-they-going-to-do-about-it? safety-worshipping society.

27 February 2007
"After the news that the points at Grayrigg were left in a dreadful state we ask: can a nationalised railway ever be truly safe?"

That was not the intro on Newsnight last night. Strangely enough.

Patrick Crozier • PermalinkFeedback (0)Incidents
24 February 2007
Pendolino crashes in the Lake District. 48 taken to hospital. No reports of any fatalities.

Update. One dead.

Patrick Crozier • PermalinkFeedback (2)High Speed RailIncidents
31 October 2006
Loose windscreen wiper stops train -
Early bus from here
which is sort of prescient because I was going to write a piece on driver comfort and the windscreen wiper - the point being that until the invention of the windscreen wiper drivers had to sit/stand outside. I suppose that applies equally as well to trains as it does to cars or buses. It must have been a hell of a job.  …link
Patrick Crozier • PermalinkFeedback (2)Incidents
27 October 2006
Shit Sherlock
Brian Micklethwait

Someone’s been crapping on trains.

Says Amit Varma, to whom thanks for the link:

I hope this doesn’t give any ideas to terrorists anywhere. Else, we’ll have terrorists crapping in public places everywhere, and when the intelligence agencies of the US and UK start investigating, they’ll drive through Mumbai’s roads early in the morning and discover exactly where the training camps are.

Seriously, this must be a nightmare for the fuzz.

Detective Constable Donna Fox said: “The man has struck at least 30 trains since August, causing approximately £60,000 in damage and cleaning costs and resulting in many carriages been taken out of service, causing disruption and cancellations to the train services and serious inconvenience to the travelling public.  . . .”


If you see this man, says DC Fox, “do not approach him”.

Free newspapers caused New York subway flooding
Brian Micklethwait

Via Kristine Lowe (again) this:

Free newspapers distributed to subway commuters are a major cause of subway track flooding, a Metropolitan Transportation Authority investigative task force has found.

Leftover stacks of papers such as AM New York and Metro that blew onto the tracks and clogged drains were partially responsible for the crippling subway flood of September 8, 2004, which affected 15 subway lines, according to the task force’s findings.

Will the London Underground be next?

27 August 2006
Train br(e)aking for Dummies, Times journalists and, er, me. Mark Holland does the honours.

Patrick Crozier • PermalinkFeedback (0)Incidents