lördag 7 juli 2012

Breakdown, Swedish style

Swedish X2000 train breakdown, originally uploaded by Henry░Law.

Five hours in a forest in a broken down train. Both pantographs had been wrecked by a fault in the overhead wire. It took over three hours to get a rescue locomotive from Hallsberg, and another hour and a half to couple it (a freight shunter) to the train, after which it was dragged to Hallsberg, by then about five hours late.

The good thing was that SJ staff handled the incident well. The adjacent track was secured and passengers were allowed off, everyone was kept informed, arrangements were made to ensure that every single passenger reached their destination, and food was laid on free of charge at Hallsberg. You could not have asked for more.

However, it shows yet again that overhead electrification is less robust than third rail except in icy weather, and that there is also a need to standardise coupling and braking systems, so that breakdowns can be dealt with efficiently, when they happen. Whether this supports the case for bi-mode trains is another matter. Perhaps there is a need for more stand-by locomotives but in a big, sparsely populated country like Sweden they are always likely to be a fair distance from the average breakdown.

Damage to overhead electrification equipment is not unusual and when they happen they cause widespread disruption. One has to wonder why anyone has suggested, as they did earlier this year, that Britain's extensive third rail system need re-electrified with overhead wire.

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