Blog

An Unexpected End to the Journey

Peter van der Mark, a former driver who retired in 2013, has written ‘An Unexpected End to the Journey : An Introduction to International Accidents on and Around Railways’, (ISBN 9780957589834) which has been published in November 2016 and discusses rail safety with 60 world-wide rail accidents.

The book is avaialble from Shrewsdale Publishing.

Peter on his book:

This book has been written by a former train driver out of sheer curiosity why incidents and accidents in an environment as traditionally safety conscious as the railways (and, concurrently, maritime and air traffic) continue to happen. Searching for clues and finding patterns in the chain of events versus the behaviour of people who had to take the blame has been a constant quest.

All maritime, aerospace and land based traffic accidents have common characteristics. No particular accident anywhere in the world is unique in any particular way. It is notably this aspect that I wanted to address, it will be clear when going through the book.

This book is predominantly about foreign (from a British reader’s point of view) incidents and accidents because the ins and outs of British accidents on and about the railways have been published extensively in various languages. It does include, however, a few relevant British accidents that demonstrate a particular type of occurrence and also inform the readers abroad about some of the things that happened on these shores. The accidents are presented according to date, purely for convenience and not much in the way of extra information may be derived from that other than that the more recent accidents of similar magnitude with regard to speed and train weight in general tend to be far less severe in terms of casualties. Developments from long and sometimes unfortunate experience with traction power supply, safety systems such as signalling and train protection plus the increasing crashworthiness of rolling stock are at the root of that fact.

Peter on Peter:

During my military service I was a road vehicle driver. After college training in Leiden, The Netherlands, to become a transport-history orientated museum educationalist I moved to England and took a 180-degree turn to became a London Transport trained bus driver and then a British Rail trained train driver. Having been taken off driving trains in 2002 following the deterioration of my health, I additionally became conversant with traincrew management, traincrew competence management and work in the signalbox or traffic control centre.

Consequently you will find that the point of view in this book tends to be that of someone conversant with operational positions behind the windscreen or with control of train movement.

Wim Coenraad 2019