Troubles on the British rails

A couple quick stories this evening from the UK, where they seem to be having some serious trouble this week keeping trains operating smoothly.

First off, a train traveling between East Croydon and Caterham had to skip the last six stops of its run when a satellite link went down.  Apparently the GPS signal is critical to the operation of the trains because it indicates to the train where to stop at short platforms and controls the opening of the doors.  Someone apparently thought that was a better plan than a little sign on the side of the tracks indicating where the train is supposed to stop, like they’ve been using for years.

A spokesman for Southern said: “A lot of our trains have GPS which recognises where the train is and allows it to open the doors at the station, depending on the length of the train and the length of the platform.”

He added: “Doors can be opened manually in an emergency but we would not recommend it at other times.”

So the doors cannot be opened manually except in case of an emergency.  Apparently they’ve got HAL9000 running the trains now.

The other story is actually rather sad.  A small propeller plane crashed just outside of Stafford, England on the side of the rail line there, taking out the overhead power lines and stranding thousands of passengers as the lines between London and Manchester, Liverpool and Glasgow, among others.  The pilot and passenger on the plane were also killed in the accident.  Bad news all around.

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Seth Miller

I'm Seth, also known as the Wandering Aramean. I was bit by the travel bug 30 years ago and there's no sign of a cure. I fly ~200,000 miles annually; these are my stories. You can connect with me on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn.