Too much rub­bish be­ing left on the line­side

Rail (UK) - - Open Access - A J Slat­ter, Reigate

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.

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