One conclusion that is inescapable from yesterday’s news that pro-Brexit protesters had tried, and failed, to disrupt rail travel at two locations is that to back Britain leaving the EU need not be an intellectually challenging task. As with so much else about those who still harbour delusions of past greatness, the ideas used by the saboteurs were decades out of date. And they could have got themselves killed. Well, maybe next time.
The Cambridgeshire saboteur could have had this up his arse ...
What happened? Well, the Mirror had a brave stab at an explanation. “Police investigating pro-Brexit 'sabotage' attempts to disrupt rail network … Two home-made short-circuit devices were found clipped to railway tracks”. And where? “Home-made short-circuit devices were found clipped to railway tracks in Cambridgeshire and Nottinghamshire last week”. With a photo of Peterborough station. Which is not where it happened, but close.
Still, it’s an improvement on their first attempt, which featured a photo of a Virgin Trains Pendolino train, which doesn’t operate in, er, Cambridgeshire or Nottinghamshire. But do go on. “It came with a note saying ‘Leave means leave’ and threatening to ‘bring this country to its knees’ if Britain doesn't exit the EU.” But it didn’t work.
“The devices were designed to make it appear to signal workers that a train was stationary on the track when there wasn't one, disrupting the network and causing delays … But safeguards introduced to comply with EU regulations mean the devices failed”. Now, I would love that last assertion to be true - Brexiteers outdone by the ghastly Eurocrats.
... while his Nottinghamshire counterpart would have to make to with this
But it’s not quite that simple. Two things here. One, what the saboteurs had tried to do was to improvise a set of track circuit clips. What they? Well, on lines which use track circuiting - not universally true in the UK - a low-voltage current passes along the rails, the circuit being “completed” as a train passes over the tracks. So for the signallers, the section through which the train is running shows up as occupied.
However, and here we encounter a significantly sized however, the improvised devices don’t look like proper track circuit clips (which train guards use in cases of emergency). And no, I’m not going to include an image of proper track circuit clips. The Wall Of Gammon™ can figure that one out themselves.
Also, Two, many lines in the UK no longer use track circuiting - they rely, instead, on axle counters which, to paraphrase the late Brian Hanrahan, count the axles all out, and then count them all back. A four-coach train counts sixteen axles as it enters a signalling section - ten if it uses articulation, rail purists - and then counts the same number as it exits.
Yes, that would be difficult for your average amateur protester to simulate. And there is one more problem for Brexiteer disruption mongers. At one of the locations cited - Yaxley in Cambridgeshire - trains pass at speeds of over 100mph. The tracks use continuously welded rail. So before the Wall Of Gammon™ had done their deed, they could be splattered by several hundreds of tonnes of stealth heavy metal.
Thus another entry for the next series of Darwin Awards. You have been warned.
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