If September is the month to get over the summer, then October is the month to prepare for the winter. First of all, though, Autumn beckons bringing with it the dreaded leaf fall season. A recent article in the Times highlighted the innovative work that is being carried out by the rail industry to tackle this perennial problem. You would have thought the railway press would be pleased that a good news story was being published in the main stream media? Oh no, comments from Rail magazine and Modern Railways journalists ridiculed the industry experts by suggesting that they were over promising and misleading the mighty Thunderer. I was brought up with the adage that “all publicity was good publicity”, not for our self styled communications professionals, I’m afraid.
Reorganisations come around at Network Rail almost, if not more so, as the seasons! This latest one is well intentioned and led by the excellent Andrew Haines, CEO of Network Rail. It is disappointing though that the appointment of 19 of the most senior managers (Regional Managing Directors and Route Directors) only includes 3 women and no-one from a BAME background. I’m still hopeful, though, that one day we will have a railway whose leaders do reflect the population they serve but this, I feel, is a missed opportunity.
HS2 is being reviewed, the industry structure is being reviewed and soon we may be in a position where the government itself is being reviewed by the public. In these unstable times its good to see that the focus by many companies and the trades unions is on mental health. The anxiety caused by uncertainty can be overwhelming for some so now is a good time to look after each other.
I’m off to Rome this month to meet with colleagues from the Community of European Railways and Infrastructure Companies as well as colleagues from European Infrastructure Managers. We will be discussing various ETCS change control proposals. Afterwards I will be taking some holiday as well as taking the train to Venice!
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Every couple of months or so, I read of cases where a truck has hit a bridge resulting in heavy delays and cancellation of train services. This is accompanied by calls for the truck driver to be handed a prison sentence of various lengths. Why are we so quick to condem the working men and women of this country to having a criminal record? No truck driver that I have ever met (my father was an hgv driver – no bridge bashes!) has ever deliberately driven into a bridge! This is a challenge which is desperately crying out for a technical solution. If they were train drivers we would have found a way of mitigating the risk by now.
Until next month,
S and L Roberts (Railway Consulting) Ltd