Southern Discomfort

26 August 2004

Hi-tech satellite systems used to open train doors automatically have been failing, leaving people trapped on trains in the South of England. [...] The satellite tracking system monitors where trains are and should open the doors automatically when they stop at a station.

You. Have. Got. To. Be. Kidding. Me. As terreus points out, why don’t they just have a button in the drivers cab? I suppose it could be just that Southern’s parent company, Govia, has to find something to spend the whopping £670 million in subsidy that it will be receiving over the next five years, courtesy of the taxpayer.

Update: Spy Blog points out the potential dangers of such a critical component relying on GPS, and possible problems when the EU’s Galileo goes online.


2 Responses

Graham Lehr

The whole point of the GPS system is that it prevents doors being opened without a platform being present when a train is longer than a platform at a little used station on a heavilty used line.

Before GPS they just relied on people not stepping into the void. Which some passengers didn’t always get right. I’m sure fitting each station with a track side transponder would be too expensive and still break.

Or you could just have the door operation manually controlled and a bit of paper telling the driver at which stops not to open the the rearmost doors (as they did, and still do on the Tube with the older trains on the Met Line). Uglier and less hi-tech than the GPS system but a lot more robust.