Saturday, June 11, 2011

EHA was more of a problem

I had my trip to EHA. I went to London on Thursday afternoon having had a major computer crash. I lost three quarters of my files following an attack by a Trojan. Fortunately, I had everything backed up on a separate hard drive.

The meeting was fine. I met some of my old friends including Michael Hallek, Emili Montserrat, Estella Matutes, Claire Dearden, Richard Rosenquist, Freda Stevenson, Federico Caligaris Cappio, Paulo Ghia, Kostas Stamatopoulos, Christian Giesler, Aaron Poliak, Eva Kimby Ted Gordon Smith, David Linch and Andy Rawstron. Four talks on the B cell receptor were excellent.

It was going home that the problem arose. Waterloo Station was more crowded than normal and the indicator board showed no trains leaving. Apparently there had been a signal failure the other side of Woking. It later turned out that there had been an attempted theft of copper cabling that had inactivated the signals.

On the station I met Pipril Pete, aka Peter Mainprice who had helped me organize a series of scientific meetings in the 1970s. He suggested that we could by-pass the blockage by going through Reading from Paddington. And so we did. It meant four separate and very slow and crowded trains, but I finally made it home at 1-30 am Friday.

I was so exhausted by the experience that I abandoned plans to go up to London yesterday and today.

The rail network has issued an apology and told us that next time they will do better at communication. Communication! There are several areas that they need to do better at. They could do better at protecting their signaling. I read in the paper yesterday that another attempted-copper-cabling-thief is in hospital having suffered third degree burns from the 22,000 volts that were passing through the cables.

They can use their brains. Signaling is to signal. It conveys the message that the line ahead is clear (or not). Modern trains can communicate with signal boxes by radio. Why did they not use this other means of signaling that the track was clear?

Finally, even if they had to rely on the signals, why not hire buses to bridge the gap between Woking and Farnborough where there were no signals? I am afraid the train company has got itself a very poor reputation. Some passengers were kept on a stationary train for 2 hours and eventually took the law into their own hand and broke out before walking along teh track to the next station.

Some sad news. Daniel Catovsky's daughter was knocked over and killed by a motor bike on London Bridge last week. Our thoughts and prayers are with Daniel and Julia at this time.

1 comment:

Chonette said...

Copper theft seams to be a common thing, we have had this problem as well on the Great Western rail, one would think that by now the rail companies would have sorted the problem to stop it happening again and again.
We were all very sad to learn about Prof. Catovsky and Mrs Catovsky's lost.