Monday, 10 December 2012

Questionable Justice

In what I believe was a miscarriage of British justice, a train guard with 20 years service, Christopher McGee, aged 45 years, was jailed for 5 years on 14th November 2012 for manslaughter as a result of the death of a drunken teenager under the train he was in charge of. Apparently, he signalled to the driver to start the train while the teenager, 16-year-old Georgia Varley, leant drunkenly against a carriage at James Street, Liverpool station. He said he thought she was moving away.
She was killed when she fell between the train and the platform as it moved off. The teenager was described in court as ‘legless’ and she had also been using drugs. Quite why she had been allowed to get so many drinks that she could get drunk when below the legal drinking age does not seem to have been explained. Neither does the law against being in a drunken state when travelling on the railway.
The teenager's mother claimed that her daughter had been portrayed as a ‘drunken liability’ when all she did was what many teenagers do at a weekend. What an irresponsible attitude from the mother of an underage drinker!
Mr McGee was convicted by a jury who were obviously ignorant of the realities of railway operation and the judge's closing remarks, reported in The Daily Telegraph, showed a complete lack of understanding of how the railway works and of how railway employees are unreasonably expected to take care of passengers' illegal, anti-social and stupid behaviour. 
Well, Your Honour, when did you last travel on a late night train full of drunks? Did you ever travel on a train? You may not know this, but we do our best and it's not always our fault when things go wrong.
This case is just another example of the "blame someone else for your stupid behaviour" attitude too common today. 
I hope the guard appeals against his conviction and sentence.

Sunday, 9 December 2012

Plans for the London Tube System

I have written a new article for "Modern Railways" on London Underground's deep tube programme, which will be published in the January 2013 issue of the magazine. It has up an to date description of future plans for those tube lines that have not been part of the existing upgrade programme.

Two things I noticed in the writing - one is that the TfL (Transport for London) press office are completely hopeless at getting any information for journalists or keeping deadlines. The other is that information is better got from informed sources inside most organisations, TfL included.