Our little railway crossing is currently being "upgraded" from a manually controlled system whereby a signalman walks out of his box to open and shut gates to an automatic system controlled by remote sensors and monitored by a single operator in London.
This will be demolished to rubble by Christmas (no charity lines have been able to come up with the cost of moving it to a new site):
And this housing for the controls including an emergency generator will be its replacement:
Now I'm certainly not a Luddite who opposes the march of progress as I'd be very much in favour of a National renaissance of rail transport. If we could re-Nationalise the Rail system and produce a super-fast linear motor bullet train going through the village I'd be all in favour.
It just seems that the piecemeal approach such as this gives us the worst of all worlds and is indicative of why Mr Sarkozy is sadly quite correct in pointing to Britain's lack of Industry and over-reliance on Bankers.
Here's a few random thoughts...
1. Apart from the loss of heritage that replacing an old, pleasant building with a caravan sized metal box entails, the investment cost for the new signalling and gates for 5 crossings runs to well in excess of £15 million.
2. That investment money is almost certainly borrowed from abroad.
3. Most of the new equipment is made in Sweden, Germany and France where they have supported their manufacturing industries, particularly transport producers.
4. The 6 or 7 Railtrack employees who work as signalmen on a 3 shift 7 day system will either be made redundant by Christmas or will be forced to travel long distances (by road) to cover positions on other lines.