A Crash Course In Railway Safety

Anthony Williams

Playlists: 'emf2022' videos starting here / audio

Travelling by rail in most of the world is one of the safest forms of transport you can take, and in the UK even minor collisions make the news. But it wasn't always quite that way...

This talk will be a potted history of the safety of the railways in the UK and Ireland, starting from the early days when signalling was thought of as an inconvenience, and anything with wheels on it which sort-of went round went on the track. Eventually, the railway companies learned the benefits of adopting safer methods of working (sometimes requiring some encouragement from the law), leading to the introduction of some Victorian methods we still use today. Finally, we look at the more modern era with the railway losing its way with privatisation, and onto the current time, where computers and paperwork solve everything. Perhaps.

Featuring: Swiss Cheese, Charles Babbage vs. Brunel, working too hard, forgetting where you put your trains, losing your religion, a dark and stormy night, drunken driving, a loose screw, shifting foundations, and more.

No previous knowledge of the rail industry is required. The talk will cover some recent fatal accidents at a high level.