Search this site
Delude Retreat Indemnify Prevaricate Squander


I’ve been sleeping more soundly this month. Much of my adult life has been blighted by the raving uncertainty of whether or not to lay a mat on the bathroom floor to create extra resistance when feet are placed on it. So you can imagine my overwhelming sense of relief to discover that an HSE laboratory has been exploring this very issue.

‘The Role of Towels as a Control to Reduce Slip Potential’ (no, it’s not April 1st) engaged scientists in a complex series of experiments bringing together hydro-dynamics, molecular interdependency and biomechanical forces. And for just £12,000, they reached a compelling conclusion: a towel might be a suitable control measure but it’s unclear as to whether wet or dry towels are best. Fantastic!

With my appetite for research whetted, it was with untamed enthusiasm that I devoured all nine volumes - that’s just 319 pages - of RSSB’s much publicised examination of passenger containment and restraints, otherwise known as ‘seat belts’. It’s a remarkable piece of work.

For phase one, completed in 2005, 12 tests were conducted on a deceleration sled to deliver quantitative results for 5th percentile female and 50th/95th percentile male Anthromorphic Test Devices in uni-directional, variable-pitch seating positions. Stay with me. A comparison was made between restrained and unrestrained passengers, with the parameters then optimized, based on computational modelling to provide upper and lower boundaries.

And the verdict? Two-point seat belts - sorry, ‘restraints’ - would generally make matters worse in the event of a crash. Better to let folk fly around the carriage apparently. No doubt this raised eyebrows within the airline industry. It was proposed that lots more research should be commissioned into 3-point belts and alternative window technologies. Off-shore accounts were opened in anticipation.

At the end of July, a new batch of revelations was unveiled. As a preference, passengers should be retained on the train rather than being propelled through windows into passing OLE structures or having the train dropped on top of them. Laminated glass is proposed to impede speedy access by the emergency services.
Passengers should be retained on the train rather than being propelled through windows into passing OLE structures or having the train dropped on top of them.

Three-point seat belts - sorry, ‘restraints’ - were found to reduce injuries (hoorah!) but, because the seat would need to be reinforced to withstand the additional forces, passengers choosing not to wear belts - sorry, ‘restraints’ - could suffer worse damage through collision with them. ‘Do nothing’ is the preferred option.

The cost of acquiring all this knowledge has not been announced but it clearly represents staggering value for money. By my reckoning, since 2001, RSSB has spent around £80million on its research programme. My previously sceptical views have been transformed by this project - indeed I have now commissioned a study of my own.

‘Determining the Overall System Benefits of Moving to a Position of Safety When a Train Approaches’ will create a robust safety risk model through statistical analysis, an assessment of human factors and raising a moist digit into the atmosphere.

Initial work has already shattered some preconceptions. Although some health benefits have been identified for on-track staff, it’s also been established that the extra wear of boot on ballast, as staff move into the cess, increases the chance of a derailment by 0.000000000000001% (allowing for a 3% margin of error).

Recommendations are likely to promote the construction of pits in the four-foot, into which PTS holders would jump when a train is sighted. However, as part of the Track Induction Course, new starters should be fitted with electro-magnetic levitation devices, allowing them to move clear without stepping on any part of the infrastructure.

Next month we’ll bring you the findings of another investigation: ‘Optimum Axle Configuration - One Wheel or Two?’

Story added 1st September 2007
Page Top

Front Page | Safety Valve | Jungle Ron | Newshound | Red Tape | On The Line
Four by Three | Forgotten Relics of an Enterprising Age | God's Own County | Image Library

© Four by Three 2014