3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on 4 June 2002
Books on railway accidents face tough competition with well-written, technically detailed classics by L.T.C. Rolt and Stanley Hall. Nicholas Faith passes the test well. Although a TV presenter and journalist rather than a railway expert, he presents a balanced view and resists any temptation to trivialise or sensationalise the subject. Conversely, he makes the material understandable by the general public as well as the rail enthusiast. He ensures technical accuracy by quoting extensively from published classics on the subject and his selection is good, presenting a concise summary of the main points. Where he brings something extra is in looking at the human consequences of the accident, e.g. trauma to passengers and "blame culture" for the staff, and in taking examples from all over the world whereas most books concentrate on the UK. There are occasional minor inaccuracies which betray that he is not a specialist railway expert, but these do not detract from the broad message. He is not afraid to make the point, as with his previous works on air and marine safety, that in the real world with real people, "however high the expenditure on ever more sophisticated safety systems, there will always be some accidents". You can make a system "foolproof", but not human proof, and even automatic systems can fail. This is probably the best (and cheapest) book on the subject for the lay person who wants to get an informed view on "why trains crash" with more depth and accuracy than is provided by newspaper reports, but also brings new information and insights even for people who have read extensively on the subject.
6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on 16 December 2001
This book introduces in layman terms the history and mechanisms behind railway disasters. The author analyses the factors involved behind the more dramatic disasters occuring in the history of the railway industry.
The book is well written, using many quotes from newspapers, and other sources. I would recommend this book to anyone intrested in railway systems whether inside, or outside of the railway industry.
Overall a fascinating account of why train disasters occur, and the safety of railway journeys.
Very much an overview of some railway accidents through the ages and across the world. Expert opinion from various people as to the causes is provided. The main thread which occurs is that the problems were in the main caused by the human element at some stage during or prior to the crash, thus rendering them preventable. Certainly food for thought, and a book that reinforces on the whole how safe rail travel is. An easy read and very reassuring. There is mistake on page 64, it was DP2 that crashed near Thirsk, not as described.