Monday, 21 September 2015

Wildlife Watching at St Nick's Field

One of the best ways to spend a sunny Saturday afternoon is nature-spotting, so I was pleased that there are regular opportunities to join organised wildlife-spotting walks at one of my favourite places: St Nick's Fields nature reserve in York. A few weeks ago, twenty of us enjoyed a pleasant walk with the help of expert volunteers who pointed out insects, plants and birds, including frequent stops to look at things more closely or get excited about something a little way off the path. 
The walk was at the start of the Big Butterfly Count, an annual fortnight-long initiative to record sightings of butterflies around the UK, and therefore understand the geographical spread and frequency of different species. Butterflies are particularly vulnerable to pollution and habitat loss, so make a useful marker for the health or otherwise of our natural world. 

Sunday, 20 September 2015

Living Life in Orange

As the time approaches for me to renew my Personal Track Safety (PTS) accreditation, here's a summary of the things that I get asked most frequently about how the railway really works. 
Disclaimer: this post is obviously NOT intended to be a substitute for the PTS course! If you want more information on railway safety, see the videos and resources on Network Rail's Safety Central site or read some of the incident reports produced by the RAIB.
One reason for the course is that most people underestimate just how dangerous the railway environment is. After all, from the perspective of passengers, the railway is as safe as we can possibly make it, and you are considerably less likely to be killed or injured as a train passenger than by driving to your destination. But this leads to problems at level crossings, the one place where members of the public interact with trains travelling at their normal speed. People tend to assume that the stopping distance for a train is similar to a bus or a lorry travelling at 30mph on an urban road.