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February 25, 2007

Richard Branson

I was on a Virgin train on Friday afternoon, travelling up the West Coast main line. Only as far as Preston thankfully, and several hours before a crash on the line. But at the start of the journey, a precocious kid had been asking his parents why trains don’t have seatbelts. His dad’s answer? Because trains don’t crash.

I bet they had an interesting conversation yesterday morning.

Anyway, the crash is proof that these new trains really don’t need seatbelts. I was amazed that the train will probably be repaired and sent back out onto the tracks. It is, as Sir Richard Branson said, “built like a tank”. In fact we should sent them to Iraq – they’d probably do a better job than many armoured personnel carriers.

Branson has gone up in my estimation since the crash. He might be a publicity-seeking maverick, but he’s not afraid to show his face even when things have gone wrong. Many people would have shied away.

According to the News of the World, the driver may have paralysed himself by staying at the wheel and wrestling with the train’s controls until the last second. Little kids might be afraid of the fast speeds that trains manage – but with drivers like him and trains as sturdy as Branson’s, they shouldn’t be.


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