Belgian crash highlights safety improvements

While the precise cause of the Halle train crash is obviously not yet known, it does appear that a red light was passed at danger. The Belgian railways are in the process of installing equipment that would prevent such an error but the scheme has not yet been completed.

A row is now emerging which suggests that the Belgian rail authorities are saying that stringent EU requirements on new signalling – presumably a reference to ECTS – means that recommendations made in 2004 to install fail safe equipment have not been carried out. This is clearly one of those cases where the search for perfection is the enemy of the good.

That fully justifies the decision to install the TPWS system in Britain. It was relatively simple technology that could be introduced quickly and at a reasonable cost. Sure, it is not perfect and there are circumstances where a crash might still be possible. But it was excellent value for money and has proved itself, with a reduction in SPADs and, crucially, no subsequent accidents.

  • G. Tingey

    Today, acording to the Beeb, who are saying that there may be a 19th body under the pile. But they have got both “black-box data recorders.
    Meanwhile, also as of today, and from the Beeb, Eurostar are still suspended,
    but you wouldn’t know that from their web-site, where there is no mention of not being able to get to/from Brussel.
    Typical.

  • A Wylie

    Maybe you should go away and research the TBL1 and TBL1+ safety systems, which are given to work like TPWS. There’s some good info on the Railway Gazette site – oh, they are rivals aren’t they? And while you are at it, ask why the Belgians are using 45 year old trains with no safety system and no crashworthiness.

    Then there is the vexed question of why passengers are allowed to travel in the leading driving trailer which doesn’t happen here.

    On yer bike, son…………

  • Dan

    “Then there is the vexed question of why passengers are allowed to travel in the leading driving trailer which doesn’t happen here. ”

    I don’t understand this – am I not in the leading trailer when on pretty much any EMU / DMU. The 1st gen slam door EMUs on the SR were like this were they not, or am I mistaken? (and indeed any emu / dmu older than that)

  • Nigel Frampton

    “I don’t understand this – am I not in the leading trailer when on pretty much any EMU / DMU. The 1st gen slam door EMUs on the SR were like this were they not, or am I mistaken? (and indeed any emu / dmu older than that)”

    Certainly some of them had driving trailers with passenger accomodation. The Wessex units (class 442 if I recall correctly) have the motors in the centre cars. Their predecessors, the REP units had the motors in the end carriages, but if you were travelling south in a REP and TC combination, then the leading vehicle was a driving trailer with passenger accommodation. In the other direction, if you started from Weymouth then the leading vehicle was a driving trailer being pushed by a class 33.

    I’m not sure if there any loco hauled sets in the UK with driving trailers with passenger accomodation nowadays – perhaps that’s what ‘A Wylie’ is referring to – but it certainly happens in Germany – I travelled in a leading driving trailer this morning!

  • RapidAssistant

    Dan, Nigel – I think in this country the regulations make a distinction between low speed, commuter multiple units, and high speed main line (i.e. 100mph+) examples – for instance think of the Pendolino – the leading/trailing vehicles have the 1st Class kitchen in one, and the luggage store in the other, and therefore only have a small seating area in each to satisfy this regulation.

    On the other question the BREL 1972 PEP classes (313/314/315/507) – have powered leading/trailing vehicles and the centre coaches are unpowered, but house the electrical gear.

  • MERVYN COTTELL

    Halle bears likeness prima facie to Ladbroke Grove.

  • Dan

    Ah – I see the point being made – thanks Rapid / Nigel

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