Anorak News | Flying Scotsman

Flying Scotsman

by | 13th, March 2006

‘AS passengers onboard the Waterloo to Bournemouth service late last Wednesday night will attest, the Government’s integrated transport policy is a wow.

To Warrington and infinity…

No longer does a train look like a train, but when it arrives at Southampton it integrates into a bus. Ingenious? You betcha. And all the more so when you learn that the train-bus costs more to ride on than an ordinary bus. Progress must be paid for.

And the rail service has a rich history of innovation. As the Times reports (“The next service to arrive at platform twelve will be… a flying saucer”), back in the 1970s British Rail was looking to the future.

The nationalised company that had trouble keeping the ends of sandwiches from curling up was thinking about a nuclear-powered flying saucer.

Investigations at the European Patent Office have discovered that a parent for this actual Flying Scotsman was granted on March 21, 1973.

The Guardian has seen the blueprints, and tells us how engineer Charles Osmond Frederick’s invention would have worked: “A controlled thermonuclear fusion reaction is ignited by one or more pulsed laser beams produced by lasers and reflected or focused on to a central reaction zone on the underside of the platform.’

Of course, none of this would have been possible had the driver been contemplating industrial action in the canteen or had attempted to fly through the wrong kind of space.

And even if British Rail’s famously efficient and friendly staff had been up to the challenge, Michel van Baal, of the European Space Agency, says the craft would not have worked. He says it would have needed an ‘unbelievable amount of energy’ to fly. ‘I have had a look at the plans, and they don’t look very serious to me at all.’

And Colin Pillinger, of the Open University, the man who took his Beagle 2 Mars probe for a walk and lost it, is dismissive of the propulsion system. “It is very unusual, and if I hadn’t seen the documents I wouldn’t have believed it,” says he.

Indeed, much of the transport network defies belief. And news of the British Rail shuttle comes on the same day the

Independent says the Government is going to kill off plans to give Britain high-speed TGV-style trains like France and Germany.

As Chris Grayling, the Tory transport spokesman, asks: “They launched the idea of a high-speed line in a blaze of publicity and are now quietly dropping it. Where is the vision?’

And where are the flying saucers?’

Posted: 13th, March 2006 | In: Uncategorized Comment | TrackBack | Permalink