Magazine article The Spectator

Banned Wagon

Magazine article The Spectator

Banned Wagon

Article excerpt

THE quest for total public safety on the railways has reached the point at which it raises the question: had the rules defining what staff and passengers can and cannot do been in place in 1830, would it have been possible to develop railways at all? The answer is almost certainly no.

George Stephenson's Rocket would still be sitting idle in a shed in Stockton-on-Tees while safety experts argued over modifications to the footplate; the Great Western would have remained unbuilt, Isambard Kingdom Brunel having been dismissed for refusing to remove his stovepipe hat while on duty; and up in some north-country siding would be a carriage of skeletons, the remains of early passengers who perished while officials argued over whether or not it was safe to let them off the train.

This is the fate that befell passengers on a Dublin to Belfast train. Having almost completed its journey from the Irish Republic, the train stalled 100 yards short of Belfast station. …

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