News that a nine year old girl and her mother were among those killed in the Berkshire rail tragedy on Saturday make it all the more poignant. Already there are calls to scrap unmanned level-crossings in favour of either building bridges or tunnels over or under the lines or by manning them again.
Either solution would be expensive. The latter harks back to the age of steam and would hardly be the most exciting of career choices. The former would require civil engineering that would takes years, if not decades, to complete.
And you have to ask yourself, how often this type of accident is likely to occur? Of course you can’t put a price on a life and each death is a personal tragedy for someone, but you have to take a dispassionate look at how these problems are addressed.
Rail crashes are spectacular and always lead to demands that “something must be done about it,” and yet every day ten people are killed on our roads but it seems their deaths are ‘invisible.’ Where is the clamour for something to be done?
What hasn’t been proved yet is whether whoever drove onto the track did so deliberately. If so, it was a terribly selfish way of committing suicide. Peter Cuthbertson has an interesting take on this.
Meanwhile, Elton John’s latest offering is released today. Peachtree Road features an unmanned level-cross on its cover, albeit an American one. An unfortunate marketing coincidence.