The Paddington rail crash has reopened the debate surrounding the fitting of Automatic Train Protection (ATP). Some reports have suggested that ATP systems are difficult to maintain: First Great Western said that at any given time only about 80% of their ATP systems are operational.
But one operator is successfully using a full ATP system. Chiltern Railways, which operates between London Marylebone and Birmingham, points to the system’s effectiveness.
A small unit mounted on the dashboard monitors the driver’s performance, with the system ready to step in if the train’s speed moves outside safety parameters.
Andrew Hamilton, Chiltern Railways director of engineering, said that as it is an intelligent system, it should be unobtrusive.
`In an ideal world it should never make a noise, and it doesn’t intervene if the driver is using proper defensive driving techniques,’ he said.
`We have gradually chipped away at the initial teething troubles and now have a system which is good enough to run at nearly 100%,’ said Hamilton.
* News Analysis, p10