True stories from the Great Railway Disaster

A weekly chronicle of the absurdities caused by the Government's privatisation programme; No 45: so is it the wrong type of snowplough?
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The Independent Online
NEXT time Britain gets a blanket of snow, there may well be a new excuse for the ensuing disruption - there's no locomotive to push the snowplough.

Until the creation of Railtrack, locomotives and the ploughs were all owned by British Rail. Now the locomotives are owned by the three freight companies which are being prepared for privatisation, while the snowploughs lie in separate yards run by Railtrack, which is responsible for all track and infrastructure.

Railtrack does own some locomotives for maintenance purposes but they are not strong enough to push the ploughs. Stephen Joseph of the pressure group Transport 2000 who discovered this anomaly, says: "This would never happen on the roads; the people responsible for clearing the roads own the snowploughs and just get on with it."

He said that the locomotives might well be in a completely different place from the ploughs, causing delays in getting the equipment out.

Railtrack, however, argues that Britain does not have a climate that requires snowploughs "very often". Sounds like a prayer for global warming.