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What is it with Network Rail and daft signs?

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- Tom Winnifrith

I noted upon my return to Airstrip One, the obsession of Network Rail with bossy signs. But there are also the pointless ones that litter the stations, as if they breed like some genetically modified rabbit. And thus walking into a mainline station in London I am informed by a specially erected sign “There have been 13 accidents on this escalator in the past 3 months.” Unlucky for some I guess.

But how do you define an accident? Me falling down the (short) escalator? Almost certainly yes. Me stumbling and falling as I got off suffering a bruise or two? Marginal. Me grazing my calf on the side as we moved down ? No. I do not know what the definition of an accident is and who was paid to count them. And why? It is not as if this escalator is an unusual design with multi speeds which may require extra care. It is a short standard escalator. And what behavioural changes does Network Rail hope to achieve by putting this sign up?

Amid the busy crowds it is easy to find yourself bumping into this sign. I wonder how many times that has happened in the past quarter. What we really need is a sign warning us how many times in the past quarter there have been accidents involving the sign alerting us to the escalator accidents sign. This could be a whole new growth industry. Perhaps Ed Miliband would like to promise public funds for it as part of his job creation programme?

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