19 Jun 2010

What happened to the 1300 new carriages?

For several years the Labour government promised that 1300 new carriages were going to be delivered. They probably will never be because of the cuts. So the trains are getting more and more overcrowded and uncomfortable, which makes passengers opt to go by car or bus instead.

Uncosted safety costs lives
Now 1300 vehicles is, by coincidence, roughly the number of mark 1 vehicles that were scrapped in 2005, despite the fact that they were good for another 15 years in service. These spacious and comfortable trains (above) were hurriedly withdrawn due to their supposed lack of crashworthiness. Following the serious accident at Clapham Junction in 1989, it was realised that they were well below current safety standards. From that time on, there was an ill-considered and uninformed campaign to get them replaced. But they were still at least an order of magnitude safer than the alternative of travelling by bus or car. And they could have been confined to routes such as branch lines where speeds were slow and there was next to no possibility of a collision, let alone a high-speed accident.

This is a good example of the hazards of applying safety measures without regard to the cost. Uncosted safety costs lives.

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