- Jan 31, 2016
- Reaction score
OT but I’ve spent my entire working life on the railway in the UK and have never heard of this.On the subject of train drivers speeding; British trains are subject top strict speed regulations. Drivers are now complaining that 'railway enthusiasts' with radar guns are reporting trains for apparently speeding.
As the devices aren't issued or supervised by the police the information they produce isn't acceptable as evidence in any legal proceedings. The railway companies still have to waste time investigating allegations of speeding though.
Since 2001 it has been mandatory for trains to have an onboard data recorder (like most aircraft) which records, among other things, speed. Drivers are subject to regular unannounced competence monitoring using OTDR data. Most modern trains feed back live data to the Operations Control room and this invariably includes real time GPS position and train speed, so I can see exactly how fast a train is going and where it is from the comfort of my desk.
Backing this up a few companies do still use radar speed measurement using calibrated equipment - as was extensively used in the days before OTDR right back to British Rail in the 1980s - but this is dying out because it’s not cheap or, indeed, particularly effective because the first driver to pass the guys with the speed gun warns all the other drivers. Following the Ladbroke Grove crash of October 1999 equipment on the track and trains was installed nationwide to prevent overspeeding on approach to red signals or reductions in permissible linespeed.
The police take nothing to do with the enforcement of railway linespeeds or professional driving policies; it is solely a matter for the train operating companies who employ the drivers. There’s no equivalent of the Road Traffic Act for railways so it’s not a specific offence to drive a train too fast. It might be prosecutable under ROGs or other general Health and Safety legislation but it would have to be really egregious to get to that point.
I have never heard of a driver being dobbed in for speeding by ‘spunkers’ as we endearingly call them. In my years working in Operations Control we do get reports from members of the public on Twitter most days making all sorts of ludicrous overblown allegations against train drivers but these are almost always found to be false. We do occasionally get reports of trains speeding (usually over temporary or emergency speed restrictions) made by railway staff and these are always investigated thoroughly.