Letter: This seems to me to be yet another case of rail bashing by a politican
This letter sent to the Star was written by Steve Ryszka, Senior project engineer, Network Rail (retired), Norton Lees, S8
On June 18, you published a quarter page item about Councillor Francyne Johnson’s travel difficulties. Cllr Johnson thanks the “emergency services, police, paramedics and firefighters” but no thanks to any of the rail staff involved.From the moment the train first came to a halt the train crew, signalling staff, engineering staff and operations staff in both Network Rail and East Midland Trains Control centres and on the ground were working to provide assistance to the passengers involved on the train.The first problem seems to have occurred when a trespasser was on the line, not the railway’s fault. The train was diverted on to a “track which does not normally carry mainline services”. This is a quite common occurrence and happens frequently to allow engineering work to take place on the main lines.The second problem she reports was when her train was stopped by floodwater, again not the railway’s fault, look at the problems at Dawlish and Cowley Bridge near Exeter in recent years. Network Rail’s infrastructure is old and much of it Victorian which makes it difficult to maintain. Perhaps politicians need to invest more in the infrastructure.The third problem she complains about was when the passengers were transferred to a second train this was stopped by floodwater, again not the railway’s fault.Councillor Johnson complains about having to pay for drinks and food. Imagine if drinks and food had been given out free of charge, how long would the limited stocks on board the train have lasted? I suggest that the passengers in the coach where the refreshments trolley was located would have been satisfied but by the time the trolley reached the end of the train it would have been completely empty.“Firefighters placed wooden ladders by the train doors to help people out”, when did anyone last see a fire engine with wooden ladders? The wooden ladders are part of the train’s own evacuation equipment, aluminium ladders, (as found on all fire tenders), cannot be used to evacuate trains as in the Kettering area there is now overhead electrification. The wooden ladders may have been placed there by firefighters but I seriously doubt if the wooden ladders were their equipment. They would have been working in conjunction with rail staff.“Some passengers had health conditions with no access to their medications”. I have a serious health condition, I suffer from terminal cancer. As a result when occasionally I travel to St.Pancras I take with me sufficient medication for the day, and the following two days (just in case) as well as at least two to three bottles of my own water. This is only common sense. Last week I travelled by train from Sheffield to Glasgow to see a concert and I took sufficient medication with me as I have pointed out above. I NEVER get parted from my medication. NEVER!Cllr Johnson complains at having to trudge through muddy fields… where there was a relief effort. Who does she think made all the arrangements for this? From the first minute when the train came to a stand rail staff in York, Derby and the East Midlands were working to resolve the situation and help passengers on their way. Network Rail engineers were out working in torrential rain making footpaths to enable the passengers to leave their train and transfer to buses. Whilst I have no doubt that the emergency services worked hard to help the passengers, (and they deserve praise for their actions), this would all have been managed by Network Rail Control, after all, if a passenger on a delayed train rang 999 and asked for emergency assistance would the firefighters and paramedics know where to go? Would they have the correct keys for access? Would they know if trains had been stopped to make the adjacent lines safe for them and any passengers who were de-trained.At all times when passengers were onboard the trains they were safe, warm and dry and in no risk of any danger. Water is almost always supplied when trains are delayed, at least passengers will not suffer from dehydration.I wonder would she have made the same complaint if she was on a bus on the motorway which was delayed greatly by flooding?This seems to me to be yet another case of rail bashing by a politican!