Smashing device cracks railway safety problem

The inventors of a spring-loaded hammer that breaks a train window with a single pull of a lever are hoping it will become mandatory for all passenger carriages.

The inventors of a spring-loaded hammer that breaks a train window with a single pull of a lever are hoping it will become a mandatory requirement for all passenger carriages.

Rolling stock leasing company HSBC Rail and safety product manufacturer Pickersgill-Kaye say the K-Tex system could save many lives in the event of anaccident.

‘Using hand-held hammers, as we do now, breaking train windows can be difficult — and the hammers often go missing,’ said Peter Aldrige, head of HSBC Rail.

‘You also have to individually break each pane of glass before escaping,’ he added. ‘K-Tex solves this problem while also reducing vandalism and maximising passenger security,’

In the past 18 months, rail crashes at Paddington and Hatfield claimed the lives of 35 people. Some passengers involved in the Paddington disaster were trapped behind the windows of burning carriages.

With K-Tex, passengers needing to escape after an accident will not have to waste time searching for something with which to break the glass.

Instead they just pull a lever at the side of the window, which tensions two hammers housed within the carriage wall. When the handle is released the hammers strike the edges of the pane, shattering it with one blow.

Passengers then push out the broken safety glass with the minimum of effort.

In case the handle proves too great a temptation for vandals, it can be alarmed and connected to the train’s emergency brakes.

Before K-Tex can go on sale it must be approved by the Health and Safety Executive. HSBC Rail hopes the HSE will award it a mandatory modification notice to compel train operators to build the device into carriages.