The Anonymous Widower

An Untidy Railway

I took these pictures as I returned from Eridge.

You see it all over the railways and not just in the UK; general untidiness!

When I joined ICI in 1968, I went on a thorough and excellent induction course.

One very experienced engineer, gave a Health and Safety Lecture and one thing he said, was that a neat and tidy chemical plant was less likely to have silly accidents.

Some years later, I went to the United States to see some of Metier’s clients, of whom some were nuclear power stations. This must have been just after the Three Mile Island accident, which is described like this in Wikipedia.

The Three Mile Island accident was a partial meltdown of reactor number 2 of Three Mile Island Nuclear Generating Station (TMI-2) in Dauphin County, Pennsylvania, near Harrisburg, and subsequent radiation leak that occurred on March 28, 1979. It is the most significant accident in U.S. commercial nuclear power plant history.

Artemis was involved in maintenance at the nuclear stations I visited. I can remember at AEP Donald C Cook nuclear station being shown a database of work to do and many of the actions were referred to as TMIs and checking them had been mandated by the US regulatory authorities.

I should say, the site on the shores of Lake Michigan impressed me, but another I visited later didn’t. I won’t name it, as it is now closed and it was the most untidy industrial plant of any type I have visited.

As we left, I gave my opinion to our support engineer and he told me they had a very large number of TMIs to process. I wasn’t surprised!

So why are railways generally so untidy?


June 23, 2020 - Posted by | Transport, World | , , , , , , ,


  1. Untidy railways? Switzerland was very tidy when we visited. They had teams of people collecting the junk dropped by tourists. Clean trains, and exactly on time every time! A universal travel card was a boon, as it included Cable Cars as well. We were ashamed to come home on the train from Gatwick.

    Comment by jagracer | June 23, 2020 | Reply

    • I certainly couldn’t complain about any of my trains today, but Network Rail never seems to tidy up after they’ve finished a project.

      Comment by AnonW | June 23, 2020 | Reply

  2. I’m not sure if you’ve been watching Tim Dunn’s Architecture The Railways Built on the Yesterday channel, but in one episode they showed Network Rail tidying up at King’s Cross after a recent closure. So it seems that some parts of Network Rail are careful to tidy up, so perhaps its something that just is not consistent across the whole network.

    Comment by Matthew Goode | June 24, 2020 | Reply

  3. I’ve not been watching, as I rarely watch programs without adverts unless it’s live British sport.

    Comment by AnonW | June 24, 2020 | Reply

  4. Brighton Line has a real challenge on access with two of four tracks needing to be open 24/7 ironically for Gatwick. This is then compounded by access they do get on mid week nights being extremely constrained in possessions of 4-5hrs which by the time you’ve taken the possession and secured the isolation gives you 2.5-4hrs working time which is just about enough time to deal with a rail defect but not enough time to get all the scrap away. There’s also the safety constraints with using RRV’s next to open lines. All this has resulted in scrap being stacked up and it has accumulated over many years. That said when big closures are granted they can never seem to capitalise on the opportunity to clear up.

    Comment by Nicholas Lewis | June 24, 2020 | Reply

    • Interesting, one could blame Beeching for closing the relief line from East Grinstead to Lewis that was used as a diversion when maintenance was carried out on the Brighton main line. It is ironic that the cost of replacing closed lines today is in the £billions. Beeching came about as Civil Servants took back handers off of road construction companies and the Road Transport Federation. They used the money to buy large houses in the west country cheap, and then waited for the Motorways to get there, ie M4 and M5.

      Comment by jagracer | June 25, 2020 | Reply

      • Remember too, that the Transport Minister; Frank Couzens was an ex-lorry driver and leader of the Transport and General Workers Union He believed all goods should travel by road and Harold Wilson believed that everybody would have their own car, so trains were irrelevant.

        Comment by AnonW | June 25, 2020

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