Tuesday, 22 January 2013
You couldn't make it up
The imaginary board of the imaginary "Failtrack" is in session.
MD: "Well, how is the project for new signalling from Ely to Norwich progressing?"
Chief Engineer: "We've paid £15 million pounds to the contractors to hand the system over to us."
MD: "Yes, and how is the new system working?"
CE: "Well. You remember the bullet point targets?"
MD: "Of course! This innovative project has been piloting numerous new design aspects with the intention of “modularising” the process and achieving significant cost savings. These include applying standard designs and constructs for interlocking, use of “plug and play” cables and components, lightweight signals obviating the need for associated civil engineering work and maximising the use of off-site pre-assembly and test – this providing additional benefits in the area of health and safety. Which is our main concern. Are the trains running faster now?"
CE: "Not exactly. The manual system is slowing the signalling down a bit".
MD: "Manual system? But the whole idea was to get rid of the manual system? These frightful little chaps in their cosy signal boxes working their levers was just so 19th Century. They were costing thousands of pounds a year and all they were doing was opening and closing the gates and working signals. And keeping an eye on the line. And clearing snow when it fell on the crossing."
CE: "Ah but the ground radar system that is now supposed to check the crossing for people before the lights are cleared for the train isn't working"
MD: "Well how are the lights operated now that we've sacked or re-deployed all the signalmen?"
CE: "We have men stationed in cars and vans on a shift system. They sit in them with the engine running as it's so cold. When they see the barriers come down they get out of their cars, walk over to the control box and manually set the signal to green for the approaching train."
MD: "Well that sounds much more sensible. I think we all deserve another bonus".