Rush to join train speed tests

MORE THAN 50 members of the public have volunteered to be tied to posts close to railway lines to help British Rail test the turbulence effects of trains passing by at 140mph.

The tests are part of preparations for the high-speed Channel Tunnel link. 'People have been ringing in to say 'We think that sounds exciting, we'd like to try it',' a British Rail spokesman said. 'One caller described it as the railway equivalent of bungee-jumping.'

But volunteers who do not work for BR were being thanked and told only experienced staff will be used in the experiment.

The tests will establish whether it is feasible for maintenance gangs to work while the new trains are running.

Taking part in the tests will be an optional addition to normal duties for BR staff and those who volunteer will not receive any special payment. The spokesman said staff volunteers were already coming forward. 'This is at the leading edge of railway technology and our people are going to want to be involved,' he said.

However Jimmy Knapp, general secretary of the rail union RMT, yesterday condemned the proposal. 'This is a bizarre way to try to find out what they want to know,' he said.

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