Murphy’s Law

for Fandango’s One Word Challenge (FOWC), apt.

A few weeks ago, our Prime Minister promised the UK a world-beating Track and Trace app in the fight against COVID-19. With a straight face. I suspect many UK citizens would have settled for an ordinary app, just one which worked.

What better introduction to another world-beating UK project, the Advanced Passenger Train (APT).

This was a project which ran between 1969 and 1985 and which, ultimately, did not deliver. The goal was simple – to build a faster train and to reduce journey times. One did not necessarily guarantee the other – railways in the UK tend to have lots of twists and turns, so the “win” would be maintaining a decent speed as the train went through these curves. Enter the Advanced Passenger Train, a new design which relied on tilting the train as it travelled, and used a new gas turbine propulsion system. To name but a few.

I think it is important not to be too derogatory to the train. Much of its design has been copied successfully in the years since the project. The government wished to see a return on its investment and the train was pressed into service in 1979. Basically, anything that could go wrong, did. Although the kinks were quietly ironed out in the next five years, the writing was on the wall, and the project canned in 1985.

Total cost to the UK taxpayer was estimated at just £50 million – that’s about half the budget required to develop a car, at around the same time. Not to mention, a car is less complicated.

Britain’s answer to France’s TGV -nearly!

Author: Mister Bump UK

Formerly Stroke Survivor UK. Designed/developed IT systems for banks, but had a stroke in 2016, aged 48. Returned to developing from home, plus do some voluntary work. Married, with a grown-up, left-home daughter.

7 thoughts on “Murphy’s Law”

  1. Oh we had also a debacle with a ‘newer and faster’ train! It was supposed to go from Be to the Netherlands but something never worked out and I think it died a silent death.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. We had a lot of these projecys around that time. Concorde was one, that went enormously over-budget, except with Concorde, it was felt more expedient to keep ploughing money into it. It is funny because years later, in the 2000s, Ruchard Branson successfully used Italian-made Pendolino trains on that line, with some success. I guess the technologies overlapped some, but, like, 25 years later. Well, I suppose “success” is questionnable, as it is everywhere in the UK!

      Liked by 1 person

    1. I remember it got a really bad press at the time, but £50m must have been peanuts even then, and some good spin-offs came out of it. They are talking about a new line now (ok, that is not just rolling stock but a new track) which is coming in at a few billion.

      Liked by 1 person

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