Packed trains crash through the Beeb's download plans

While covered in bubblewrap

Letters After last week's storms crashed not only train networks, but rail websites as well, you'd think the sympathetic bosses of the UK's national rail network would be keen to keep out of the news. Not so. Today, they came out with the astounding suggestion that packed trains are "safer" for commuters.

This certainly derailed many of you - particularly this reader, who issued what we think is a fair challenge to those running our uber-efficient rail network:

Hi Lester, Please excuse the bad language here but what pure unadulterated b*ll*cks this is. There is EU legislation preventing animals travelling in the kind of cramped conditions I endure every morning. So what will soon be food gets to travel in decent space while people get crammed in like sardines and that's their tough sh*t?

Let's look at the daily train journey. There's already a considerable safety risk being stood on a dirty, smelly class 150 train from the student with a f@*k off great backpack who smashes into people's heads, rendering them unconscious or with a bloody great headache because he's too stupid to take the damn thing off.

Then there are the pathetically small overhead shelves which don't hold pilot cases or small travel suitcases safely, so they hang over the edge, lurching ever nearer the point of plunging down and crashing into the poor passengers. The people using laptops should also be considered in this scenario, as well as people who wear chains and the like as fashion statements.

Get the picture? There's some serious potential ammunition to do lots of damage to people in the event of a crash. And some drooling halfwit in the government reckons that's safe? I openly invite this prize specimen of half wittedness to lay on train (a class 150 which does the Birmingham to Aberystwyth will do, because they absolutely ming) which I will happily ensure gets filled with mannequins (all weighted like people), bags and cases (all filled and heavy, precariously perched on the overhead shelves) a few laptops and the requisite other varied stuff people take with them to work. All paid for by this representative of homunculus governmentus dimwittedus.

Then I'll stick him right in the middle of a coach, towards the end of the train (where the maximum damage from flying people, cases, laptops, et cetera is likely to happen) after belting him in the face several times with a full 200 litre rucksack and set the train to crash at full speed. Then let's see what's left of this pillock after the crash and see if he's able to say "this is safe".

Or doesn't anyone who peddles this garbage actually believe it enough to put it to the test? As for money being spent, the last time I heard from Arriva Trains Wales, they were pleading poverty. So I'll believe the bulldust when I see the evidence.

Picture nicely painted. Please forward details of time and place of trial. You get the big wig, we'll deal with the video equipment.

Interesting to hear that modern trains actually have seats. I remember them as a young lad but I just assumed these days we all stood in a small vestibule area by the doorway. Presumably the rest of the carraige is taken up by the mighty engine but I cannot confirm this as I've never been able to get that far.

Hear hear.

If it's so safe to overcroud a train, how come last Thursday they wouldn't let anyone more passengers get on one of the few trains that was actually going from Paddington. Also, I've been on trains before, again from Paddington, going somewhere beyond Reading, where the driver refused to set off until some people had got off the train because "it is dangerously overcrouded." Twunts.

Maybe they ought to cram first class, then. Or do they value these people less than cattle class?

By extension then, this government will be advocating the use of cattle trucks next. Where have we seen that before?

And then talk turns to trains in India (no Jade Goody references, please).

If packed trains are safer, then the world's safest train system has got be in India. Those trains are so packed that people even ride on the roof. Of course, in case of a crash, all bets are off (especially for those on the roof). Wait, they're talking about safety in case of a crash ? Oops.

First Great Western is missing out on a major passenger revenue opportunity. Western Region is one of the few parts of the rail network which hasn't been electrified with overhead catenary. A really enterprising rail operator would encourage commuters to clamber on to the roofs of trains.

In a moment we could double the number of rail passengers and invoke the bucolic charm of travelling by train in India. At every stop, First Great Western trains would become the centre of a swarming mass of humanity as suitcases, small dogs and hazelnut cappucinos are swung up to those fortunate al-fresco travellers.

Low bridges might be a problem, but what better way to develop a sense of community than to have Mexican waves running along the top of 125s?

And blimey, there's always a few that think it's a good idea - though we are struggling to compare the damage from a spilt pint versus a packed train...

This comes as no surprise. I used to run a Students' Union bar and we had to fill out risk assessments all the damn time so I got them off to a fine art. We worked out that the chance of someone injuring themselves on a spillage of liquid was lower when the bar was heaving than when the bar was quiet (it's difficult to fall over when there's no space to fall into). When the bar was quiet, spillages were a higher priority than when the bar was busy, which is a tad counter-intuitive. In the event of a train crashing into another train, as long as no derailment is involved, I can actually see how the train company is justifying this. What they haven't thought of, however, is that as the trains aren't rammed for the majority of their time of operation, they should make them safer during these periods - and fit seat belts.

The research is correct: humans make great packing material when in close proximity to each other. When I travel by train I enhance this effect by wearing an overcoat made entirely from bubble wrap. I think this idea may catch on with appropriate marketing as it is no less daft than trying to afford a train fare in the UK these days. -- The Mahatma of Safety.

Back to the world of IT, the Venice Project revealed itself to the world last week as Joost, an interactive, IP-based TV software system. Sounds nice, but is it?

I write in comment of the article "Joost - the new, new TV thing", sounds quite wonderful really but has nobody else seen the drawback? except for the very sad, TV viewing (or even DVD viewing) has always tended to be something of a communal activity.

If we push the timeframe forward and have the much quested after "convergence" there's going to come a time when the family has settled down for the evening, decided exactly what they're going to watch - and then the fun begins. A targeted ad for nappies pops up and the man of the house looks accusingly at the woman of the house (or worse, the teenage daughter) and wonders if there's something he's not been told, of course the next ad for "transvestite monthly" (if such a publication exists) rather evens the score!

Targeting the ads may make commercial sense, and anything that cuts out the irrelevant dross is a step forward, but it's easy to foresee a time where nobody would dare switched the damned thing on in polite company. El Reg regularly has features reminding us just what "they" know about us - but whilst it's quite disconcerting to know that "they" know, it's a whole lot more disconcerting to know that people who actually know who I am will know too!!!



Agreed. Definite thumbs down. One to go on the "not to buy" list for those of you with "different" hobbies. Enough said.

BT gets the thumbs up for running Linux, but we reported that it could be violating the GPL by not publishing all the source code. Not so, you say.

the license says you can use free software as you like, but must credit where it came from and publish improvements you make to it.

Bollocks. There's nothing in the GPL, the GPL FAQ, or anywhere else about giving credit. It sounds like you're confusing the GPL with the pre-y2k BSD license (see

Similarly, the GPL says nothing about "publishing improvements". If you *distribute* software covered by the GPL, you must make the *entire* source to that *same* version of the software available too.

It doesn't matter if you've made changes or not, or whether those changes are for the better or the worse. (See, e.g., Carl

John, telling people where you install things isn't required the scripts are boilerplate only the names are changed to protect the individual setup (and really shouldn't be relied on to do that) where things are installed shouldn't make any difference anyway and thats probably why they didn't think to add them they are generally the same for most setups build scripts can have a bit of difference and it's nice to have them but I have built many applications without them and I doubt it's really an impediment to anyone using the software this is just more fud these applications are supposed to be open source and secure and for the most part they are some people just don't understand closed source does not equal safe reguardless of all the vulnerabilities found and exploited in MS products. AD

Hi, Being a sad old man I had a look at BT's source code and found the following gem in new-applet-HOWTO.txt (in busybody.tar.gz) : "First, write your applet. Be sure to include copyright information at the top, such as who you stole the code from and so forth. Also include the mini-GPL boilerplate. Be sure to name the main function applet_main instead of main. And be sure to put it in applet.c. " Perhaps I need to get out and make some new friends? NickJ

Um...fraid so.

Freedom Taskforce? These people should get over themselves.

Is there any need to imply bad intent on behalf of BT. They got it half right when prompted and might even welcome some free improvements.

Ofcom has reached for pause on BBC plans to offer its TV and radio programmes for download, saying the service would stymie competition. You took a deep breath and engaged in a good dose of Ofcom-bashing.

Ofcom are acting entirely in the public interest then? "It would be harmful to the public interest for publishers to lose out on DVD sales." What? I simply don't get it. Can anyone explain it to me? Cheers Ross

How dare the BBC be innovative and use the internet legally to promote their own products! OfCom will be telling us that free software undermines commercial product next!

Ofcomm are really taking the piss now. Not that I give a stuff about classical music, but are they really saying that because the Beeb have stolen money from me to make a certain program, they then are not allowed to give it to me for free to watch as I see fit? What's next? BBC PPV as well as the license fee? That smacks of the double jeopardy tax on petrol & special black box GPS mileage tax.

And aside from Ofcom-bashing, a nice dose of Reg bashing to finish on. IBM's attempt to turn your workspace into a mini MySpace with its Lotus product suite drew sniggers at Vulture Towers. This reader was not impressed:

So a business has undertaken the task of updating its product portfolio in response to industry trends. This is news how exactly? You are indignant why exactly?

And that's all in the mailbag for today. Get writing. Your thoughts again, on Friday. ®

Sponsored: From CDO to CEO


Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2019