Break­ing the ice

Rail (UK) - - Letters -

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

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