Thursday, January 7, 2010...9:14 pm
Commuter chaos: three fires on South West Trains
It seems there was more to today’s unrelenting commuter misery than the “adverse weather conditions” cited on the South West Trains tannoy.
My six-hour total commute featured not one but two trains on fire. I ended up stuck behind on for about half an hour at Surbiton on the way in to Waterloo – then delayed at Woking on the way back as a burning train was cleared from the opposite line.
And it’s not a statement by furious pyromanic commuters. As it pulled away from the platform at Farnham this evening, the train spewed a spectacular display of sparks – probably the cause of the undercarriage fires that plagued the service today.
Another train caught fire at Basingstoke, according to the Basingstoke Gazette. It reported a South West Trains spokesman blaming a short circuit:
“It was to do with ice and snow on the contact rail. It affected the power supply to the train and it can cause an electrical short circuit on occasions.”
The big question is whether this is inevitable in snow in the UK. It’s a tired cliche that other countries are better able to cope with severe winters. But it seems it’s not just a question of having enough grit for the roads…
[UPDATE: The Surbiton fire has been all over the BBC. But I wonder how many other trains are a potential fire risk.]Tweet