Too much rubbish being left on the lineside
Some years ago, I received an assurance from Network Rail that there was a programme to clear away old rails, cabling and sleepers after maintenance or renewals. I had three main, and (I think) valid, concerns.
Firstly, but probably the least worrying, is the impression it creates. It looks such a mess, and I wonder what visitors from overseas make of it all.
Secondly, there must be hundreds and probably thousands of tonnes of used rail lying around, and presumably it will remain there as surely the best time to remove it is at the time of the renewal?
I do not know the price of scrap steel, but these are state assets, so surely they should be recycled and the proceeds returned to NR or the Treasury. I wonder what the National Audit Office would make of such profligacy. Interestingly, NR seems very good at recycling ballast, so the concept is there.
Finally, and most worryingly, there is regrettably a vandalism culture here. Imagine the tragedy and public outcry if pieces of sleeper or small rail lengths were placed on the track, causing derailment and the potential for mass injuries and fatalities.
I was an Airport Manager, focused on safety and security, and I would rightly have been pilloried and taken to task for endangering aircraft and passengers by allowing debris to accumulate at the operational areas
I realise the railway is busy, but there are blockades and closures, and I noted that recently during a closure London Underground managed to clear 100 tonnes of debris and vegetation.
I live in Poole, and during the recent strike no trains ran between Weymouth and Poole. Obviously, the strike might not have gone ahead, but surely some plan could have been made to get a ‘scrap’ train together, switch off the third rail and remove the old infrastructure? Mike Clark, Poole
The interview earlier this year with John Halsall, Network Rail’s South East Route Managing Director, was most interesting, as I live in Reigate and travel into London on his route.
Mr Halsall believes that rail in the South East suffers from underinvestment. I agree that it takes a great deal of money to build, maintain and improve a rail system - far more than much of the public realises or is able to comprehend. I am not going to argue with his judgement, but I would ask him to do a couple of small things.
The first is to look closely at the photograph on pages 38/39 of the article in RAIL 845. The amount of post-improvement scrap and so forth shown in the photograph lying alongside the new track is a disgrace.
Furthermore, on some parts of the route from London main line stations to Reigate there are bits of old track, various scrap cabling and industrial bags of rubbish.
The line into London Bridge is an even bigger disgrace, as various black wires (which I assume are in use as they are new) are lying around at the side of the track and not in the newly erected cable ducts. The whole area looks unfinished. I would also suggest it is a safety and security vulnerability.
These are not problems specific to the South East Route. The situation has existed for 70 years on all parts of the British railway system. What confidence should one have that John Halsall and his fellow managers can wisely spend the money we taxpayers provide them with, if they cannot finish a task properly.?
Collecting and selling the scrap lying alongside NR’s tracks would begin to make some contribution to further investment. After all, NR’s debts total £45 billion and rising.
For an insight on the work Network Rail is doing to remove scrap on the railway, see RAIL 860 for the interview with former Chief Executive Mark Carne.
Also Stop & Examine, page 79.
Thameslink 700008 approaches Platform 5 at London Bridge, during testing on January 1. Reader A J Slatter is concerned about the amount of railway detritus he spotted left lying alongside the new track in this picture, which featured in RAIL 845.