Breaking the ice
Lively Polly joined the Liverpool Overhead Railway in 1893 as its only steam engine. Built by Kitson’s, it was an 0-4-0 well tank.
Among Polly’s many duties was deicing the LOR’s rails to enable the third-rail electric trains to run. It did this with steam directed through nozzles in its ‘shoes’, fitted forward of the front wheels.
Back to the future - is a 21st century version of Lively Polly something for Network Rail and Southeastern to purchase before the next big freeze, or is it cheaper not to run trains, strand passengers, and generally repeat as before? Yes, Southeastern is ‘considering’ ice-breaker shoes, but considering won’t break any ice.
This affair makes it obvious why there should be (at the very least) a second crew member on board trains.
Who operates the doors is immaterial? Passengers are a very difficult cargo and require looking after. What use is a GSM-R radio going to be if the driver is dead or unconscious? And who generally does get killed in a train crash? The driver. It is not so much whether a second crew member is always required, as whether they are sometimes essential.
A radio is cheaper than a guard (good for the shareholders), but can’t protect the train (bad for the passengers). Would it be too much to ask for both? Rose King, Cromer