SkyscraperCity Forum banner
1 - 20 of 3986 Posts

142,851 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Parts of Britain face delays as train guards strike over safety
2 June 2005

LONDON (AP) - Train passengers traveling between London and parts of northern England face delays Friday when guards stage a 24-hour strike in a long-running dispute over rail safety.

About 150 members of the Rail, Maritime and Transport Union will walk out at midnight Thursday in the second of a series of four stoppages scheduled for Fridays on services run by Midland Mainline.

The union argues that there should be several guards on each train instead of just one, which Midland Mainline says is sufficient.

"The company is well aware that one guard cannot possibly cover the whole of a multiple unit train because there is no access between units," said general secretary Bob Crow.

"After last Friday's successful stoppage we hoped that Midland Mainline would remove their heads from the sand and talk, but our calls have once more fallen on deaf ears, and strike action is the only weapon we have left.

Midland Mainline, which operates services from London to Leicester, Leeds, York and other northern destinations, said the action would force alterations to services, and apologized to passengers for the expected disruptions.

160 Posts
Tunnel collapses on to rail line

A tunnel has fallen on to a rail line after 20m of a supermarket car park collapsed in Buckinghamshire.

Two trains were travelling in opposite directions when the Tesco tunnel at Gerrards Cross collapsed. The train drivers reported the damage.

Network Rail said there were no reports of injuries. Minor roads have been closed in the area and services on the Chiltern Line have been suspended.

It is believed that trains may not be able to use the line for three days.

Network Rail has sent engineers to the site where Tesco are building a store.

'Earthquake' sounds

Eyewitness Brett Jackson told BBC News 24: "There is basically total mayhem at the moment.

"The police are trying to get everyone away. It still looks very unsafe. It looks like the rest could collapse any second.

"Apparently one of the trains missed it by minutes.

"I was parking my car when I heard what sounded like a clap of thunder - I thought it was an earthquake.

"I saw the tunnel falling on to the rail track."

He said the tunnel collapse happened at about 1915 BST on Thursday. It is thought that tons of rubble has fallen on to the track from the Tesco construction site.

Urgent investigation

A spokeswoman for Network Rail said: "A train driver reported a partial collapse in the Tesco Tunnel.

"Two trains in the vicinity were immediately stopped. Expert engineers are now at the scene."

She said trains were being terminated at High Wycombe and West Ruislip and a bus service was being operated.

A Tesco spokeswoman said: "We can confirm that a section of rail tunnel at our new Gerrards Cross site has collapsed.

"Thankfully we understand that no one has been hurt but rail services are obviously disrupted, for which we apologise.

"We have launched an urgent investigation with our engineer contractors and will work with the authorities to understand what happened and get rail services back to normal as soon as possible."

The store was in the "very early" stages of construction and was being built above the line.

The Health and Safety Executive will be involved in an investigation and British Transport Police said trains would be disrupted for up to three days.

The line carries services between London and Midlands.

160 Posts
more info... (messages from several sources below)

The 320m-long tunnel was being specially constructed to allow the Tesco
store to be built above.

No trains were involved although the collapse was witnessed by the
driver of a train at Gerrards X Stn.

It is estimated that between 500 and 1,500 tonnes of rubble have fallen
onto the track - police say it will take "at least two days" to clear
the line!

It's the first time anything like this has been attempted, apparently.
Don't be surprised if it's the last!
This will please many people who did not really *want* a Tesco store
in the area (because there are already a lot of supermarkets in the area and
Tesco would abstract trade from the established town centre). But its not so
good for railway passengers - and it might result in future similar projects
being cancelled, which will result in a financial loss for Network rail.
The railway line is in a deep cutting, and the idea was to create a tunnel where
none previously existed as then the land on top could be used for the new
superstore. (Tesco were so desperate to put a store into this locality and
could not find any other suitable unused land )

¡Viva el metro!
38,585 Posts
Where is that?
Any maps, please??

1,819 Posts
Gerrards Cross is due north-west of London out from London Marylebone. Its a rich commuter town (500 £millionaires) which has been classed as the lease affordable town to move to in the UK if your a first time house buyer.

The line itself isn't very important, but still busy nonetheless. I think this was the first time that this sort of technology was used not only in the UK, but the world and obviously theres a few flaws with it!


160 Posts
sfgadv02 said:
Wow, thats pretty bad. Are they still going to build a building on top now??
good question.

Tesco hope so.

Many local people hope not!

Apparently the local government originally refused planning permission for this store but the national government's planners over-ruled them.

I saw a TV news interview this evening and some local people were saying that they were so happy that the Tesco store has been delayed (and might yet not open) that they were thinking of opening a bottle of Champagne!!!!!

Recent reports suggest that it will take several weeks before the railway line is reopened - apart from clearing up the mess the various officials want to study exactly how and why this happened - both to make sure it does not happen again AND to make sure the rest of the structure is safe. No-one wants another collapse. Many rail travellers are going to suffer extended journey times as buses / coaches are being used to replace the trains.

The overall feeling I get from media reports is that first and foremost there has been a very big sense of relief that no-one was hurt - this was a *very* lucky escape - trains were approaching but a warning was given in time and they were all stopped.

btw, on Sunday I shall be travelling overseas for the best part of the week but will check up on things next weekend, after I've returned home.

for the record:

I'll be travelling around Germany looking at diesel trams & trains which travel on city streets, this is because as someone who has been heavily involved in promoting clean electric bus systems for where I live (London) and received rebuttal after rebuttal I have realised that maybe I need to look at things from a different angle.

(I see no reason why buses should not be as non-polluting as trams, especially on the busiest urban routes)

After all, there is some logic (even advantages) in using street based diesel powered trams & trains - such as lack of overhead wires, no problems with stray return currents and consequential reduced installation costs.. Especially here in Britain most transport experts seem to see these as "the primary" and most highly desireable features of bus systems - so why not for trams too?

OK diesel fumes may be harmful to human health and with a global shortage the cost of diesel fuel is soaring but judging by the present-day actions of bus operators and transport advocates - even "green groups" - here in Britain that seems to be of little consequence.

I realise that this tactic is tantamount to playing "devils advocate", but I have nothing to loose. Transport For London insist that a new bus rapid transit scheme which will serve my local town centre should use diesel buses, even though trolleybuses were originally proposed - and government air pollution surveys show that my local town centre suffers from exceptionally high air pollution - caused by diesel engine exhaust fumes. So, if we must have diesel buses then why cant the people of west London have diesel trams on their proposed new tramway? Or, to put it another way, why are the people of west London to be favoured with clean electric transports when we in east London are fobbed off with dirty diesels?


51 Posts
Railways in UK Society

I wrote this recently for a project at work and thought it might be interesting - especially for forummers not from the UK.

Passenger rail travel was born in the UK in 1830 with the opening of the Liverpool and Manchester railway. George Stephenson’s famous locomotive ‘The Rocket’ pulled passengers between the two cities at a speed of around 15mph, which at that time was considered highly dangerous by some commentators. Throughout the rest of the 19th Century the development of the railways across the country revolutionised almost every aspect of life, playing a key part in the Industrial Revolution.

Have you ever wondered why the international dateline, used to set clocks and agree the correct time throughout the globe, is in Greenwich in London? The answer is the development of railways in Britain. Before steam trains began whisking passengers between all of our major cities, there was no need to have one agreed time for the country. Between Derby, Leicester and London for example clocks would be several minutes out of sync with each other as clocks were set locally according to sunrise. When you could get a train between two cities the clocks needed to show the same time so that timetables for services could be drawn and relied upon.

In fact there are lots of things we take for granted that the railways have actually shaped. The growth of towns and cities into their surrounding areas forming leafy suburbs was the result of the previously unknown phenomenon of ‘commuting’. People could now live away from their place of work in the city centre and travel in each day on one of the many new railway lines that were criss-crossing areas around big cities like London, Birmingham and Sheffield. The very shape of the cities as well as the lifestyles of their inhabitants was irreversibly changed by the railway.

By the early 20th Century these great changes had bedded in with train travel and suburban living commonplace throughout society. Indeed at this point the railways had reached a level of glamour that we can now reflect on through old films and books. Travelling by the great steam trains of those bygone days carried a sense of the romantic and the exciting. To try and compare it to anything today might be to consider transatlantic flights that for some still contain that excitement.

During the two world wars that ravaged Europe the railways became a vital part of the ‘war effort’ helping in the transportation of all sorts of resources and people.

In 1947 the various railway companies were merged to form ‘British Railways’ which was to be a nationally owned industry. The idea was the railways were such an important contributor to the life of the nation that they needed to be controlled and planned centrally.

In the coming decades the age of steam would come to an end, as more modern trains were developed to be cleaner and more efficient. Diesel and electric trains replaced their steamy cousins during a time when something else was gathering pace, the spread of the private motorcar.

Although cars had been available before the Second World War, they were still relatively expensive and few households could afford one. With mass production techniques advanced largely thanks to the war, the 1950’s heralded a new era of mass production and consumption. Previously unimagined quantities and ranges of products were available to consumers fuelling an economic boom. Car ownership grew rapidly and again, life began to change just as it did with the advent of rail. By the end of the 1960’s motorways began to connect our major population centres reducing car journey times and moving the mass appeal of rail firmly onto the newcomer on the road.

British Rail realised that this was happening and decided to cut many unprofitable lines as well as to re-brand its entire service in 1965 with the now familiar double-arrow logo that we still use to label railway tickets and stations. In the UK this symbol now simply means 'national railway' rather that 'British Rail'.

Less people travelling by train meant less investment to keep the service at the previous levels and rail’s gleaming reputation had started to turn sour by the 1970’s and 1980’s. British Rail had become the butt of many jokes; with people much preferring to drive in their favourite car, or for longer journeys preferring the allure of commercial air travel, which was starting to reach a broader public without losing its glamour.

In the early 1990’s years of decay and underinvestment in the railway were really starting to show and public confidence in the system was at an all time low. The government decided to split up and privatise British Rail to give private enterprise a chance to turn things around. Many highly damaging railway accidents called into question the policy of privatisation and further damaged rail’s already troubled image. This is especially so when we remember the Potters Bar tragedy of 2002.

Despite these high profile accidents and the crippling engineering work, which was deemed necessary in their aftermath, something amazing was beginning to happen. Passenger numbers began to increase year on year. For many people the car is becoming less appealing in the current context of traffic congestion and high fuel prices. Business travellers especially can find rail travel more productive as a use of time, with several train operating companies choosing this as a marketing angle.

With journey times improving, and more new trains being added to the network than at any point in the last thirty years rail is fighting back. The environmental issues dominating the news agenda have become something for us all to think about and rail is keen to show the part it has to play. Rail travel is much more sustainable than road travel and it is likely that government road pricing schemes will provide further reason for people to leave their cars behind and come back to rail.

7 Posts
Tubeman said:
Nice little synopsis there :yes:

I think it is very heartening to hear that last year saw the highest number of UK railway journeys since 1958, BEFORE Dr Beeching decimated the railway network.
Yes. The downside is that railfreight is nowhere near as healthy as in 1958.

As for Dr Beeching, I wonder if he'd have axed as much of the network had he known that the ridership would resurge so much. Certainly with hindsight, some of his decisions seem very foolish.

Premium Member
18,785 Posts
Jam35 said:
Yes. The downside is that railfreight is nowhere near as healthy as in 1958.

As for Dr Beeching, I wonder if he'd have axed as much of the network had he known that the ridership would resurge so much. Certainly with hindsight, some of his decisions seem very foolish.
I recall reading in weight transported its comparable, actually

The big difference pre- and post-Beeching is that pre-Beeching most stations had goods yards and virtually everything was transported by rail, but now its all containerised. Consider how much more goods each household consumes now compared to the 1960's.
1 - 20 of 3986 Posts