The Seven-Thirty McLaren

At last the railway companies have latched onto Formula 1 as the role model they have been looking for: the pursuit of efficiency has never found a truer mark.

Imagine if you will that high-flying executive who wandered away from his Sunday Lunch Social for a minute to watch the British Grand Prix on Telly.  Imagine him conducting a controlled explosion into his Harvey’s Bristol Cream at the sight of a seven-point-five second pit stop.  Tires, wing adjustment changed so rapidly as to defy the eye.  Why did no-one think of this before?

Visions of trains doing rapid pit stops like this: of precision fueling, fine adjustment to different tracks, all geared to maximum economy and a super-efficient, no seconds wasted turn-around time.

Now let’s get real.

These pit-stops; presumably they’re going to be en-route:  at stations maybe?   While passengers are embarking?  As far as I know there is only one person in a Formula One car – hopefully the driver – and not several hundred.  Since a primary source of trouble on crowded trains is a blocked toilet attempts to service this whilst ‘in service’ as it were should prove an interesting traveling experience for the passengers.  Also as far as I know, toilets in Formula One cars are not a problem.   a.  there are none, and b. if there were, approaching a chicane at a hundred and sixty miles an hour nothing would be likely to block it.

Next question:

Who is the luckless guy who stands on the rails with a trolley jack ready to hike up the front of the train as it stops?  An interesting job description, probably one that would find few applicants. 

There are so many aspects to this:  for speed of change the wheels on an F1 machine are secured by a single nut.  As a passenger, how high would your anxiety levels be if you knew the wheels on your carriage were only secured by one nut – especially knowing that the nut had not been tightened by a highly-paid specialist engineer with years of in-house training, but by an apprentice on minimum wage with a football mag in his other hand?

I know railway technology has grown up a lot since the days when I took a steam train from Bournemouth to London and arrived 90 minutes late but believe me, for Formula One efficiency it is not ready.  The culture simply isn’t there.  Engines will leave the sheds on the wrong end of the trains, the trains will end in the  wrong places – we will end in the wrong places.

And a final thought:  if a major mechanical component has to changed before the start in F1, the car in question is relegated to the back of the grid, or to the pit lane.

Would you like to be a passenger if on that same premise, you were sent back to Liverpool Street and had to start after everyone else had left?

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