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Ancient railways immune to millennium bug

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Britain’s much maligned rail network looks likely to avoid fall out from the year 2000 problem thanks to its age and the lack of investment it has received over the decades. A report by the Health & Safety Executive points out that much of the track, signalling equipment and infrastructure of our railways is so old that it was installed before the use of computers was widespread. In London, for example, most of the signalling is mechanically operated and controlled electromagnetically - so, no embedded chips there. It may come as small comfort to anyone commuting on the older parts of the railway system, but at least their draughty old trains will still be running in the year 2000. Those systems most at risk within the railway industry are telecomms devices in the drivers’ cabs and on stations. So, it may be that in January 2000 your trains are running, but if they are late you are unlikely to get any announcements to that effect. And on the London Underground, the air conditioning systems may malfunction, which could lead to hundreds of people finding themselves crammed on to over-crowded, unventilated platforms. No change there, then. ®

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