Saturday, September 23, 2006

Technical Illiteracy

Luke Harding in the Guardian on the German Maglev rail crash.

The accident is the first involving the Transrapid system and calls into question the long-term viability and safety of magnetic trains. They had been hailed by some as an ecologically friendly alternative to conventional diesel-powered train travel.
Of course. Conventional trains are perfectly safe to run at high speeds over a line containing a stationary maintenance vehicle. It's only with maglev that you get a collision.


Anonymous said...

This is the sort of accident that the railways of more than a 100 years ago found ways to avoid without radios or phones. A incredible device called a 'signal' was employed.

JuliaM said...

Surely this just goes to show that no matter what safety features you build into a system, you can never completely rule out a genuine accident.

Whether caused by a blown tyre (as seems likely in Richard Hammond's case) or criminal stupidity on the part of an employee (as seems to have been the case here)?

I feel it's unlikely to stop the 'we must do something' crowd, of course.....

Rick said...

Noone points out that Maglev was invented in Britain by the late Professor Laithwaite

dearieme said...

What makes him think that high speed trains are normally diesel-powered? Oh, I know - he works for the Grnduiaa

Anonymous said...


Did I imagine the following sentence form the article, then?

Derived from the term magnetic levitation, the Maglev was conceived by Professor Eric Laithwaite, a specialist in electrical engineering at Imperial College.