Thursday, 23 October 2008

Ambulance chasers

Passenger Focus today responded to the publication of RAIB's report into Grayrigg.

Anthony Smith, chief executive, Passenger Focus said: “Passenger Focus will speak up for all rail passengers at whatever inquests or enquiries follow this report and will ensure the right questions are asked on behalf of passengers”.

Oh goody. More grandstanding from civil servants.

Wrong Times

Telegrammed by our man at 222 Marylebone Road
It's good to see Ben Webster, Transport Correspondent of The Times, has returned from his sabbatical.

Woester is on top form with a story today about 'Passengers at risk' from track design flaw linked to the Grayrigg derailment.

According to Ben 'A design flaw found in thousands of places on the country’s rail network is putting passengers at risk of a catastrophic derailment similar to the Potters Bar and Grayrigg disasters, according to a secret analysis by rail safety inspectors'.

So what level of risk is the Woester getting het-up about?

The risk of being killed in a train accident is around 2 per billion passenger journeys.

And one estimate puts the number of trains that have passed safely over points with fixed stretcher bars, (the type of point at Grayrigg) at 3.6 trillion.

Since each train represented multiple journeys the passenger risk of being killed because of points failure is even smaller.

Still never let the facts get in the way of a good story.

So Ben if you're reading this stop here.

What Network Rail have been asked to do is provide a 21st Century proof of safety analysis of this particular points design to prove that it is er... safe.

When an internationally renowned railway engineering consultancy was asked to look at this they were baffled, pointing out that no railway has ever tried to demonstrate the safety of a 50 year old design.

This is of course, a scandal.

How can we be sure that mechanical interlockings, a Victorian concept, for heaven's sake, are safe?

Over to you Ben. 'How about 'Preserved railways signalling safety scare'?