As I’m sure you’re aware, a single point of failure is a bad thing. If the single point fails, the whole system fails. That’s why we try to build in contingencies.

I was reminded of this – and if you’re a regular reader of this blog you’ll know that transportation and travel are recurrent themes – on a recent train journey into England’s capital. I was joining the train at Didcot, a 45-minute run into London and favoured as a daily commute by thousands of residents in the Didcot area.

The trains to London run every 15 minutes, and so they need to, to get the volume of people to London for work. A signal failure in the west of country cancelled one of these services and delayed another. This led to passengers being 5- and 6-deep on the platform edge. Because of the delay the train then had to drop anchor at another platform, which necessitated about a thousand people having to change platform.

Not for me. I stayed where I was, took a later train and was able to sit down and get some work done.

It seems amazing, though, that in 2016 a network and thousands of passengers can be compromised by a single point of failure, on this occasion a single point of signal failure.

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