Nuclear Trains

A Nuclear waste train crossing a bridge

These are the questions we sometimes get asked when we tell friends we've made a twitterbot that tells people where nuclear waste trains are.

Q 1) Is this information dangerous/ isn't this supposed to be secret?

This is publicly accessible information: one of us stumbled across it using looking up which freight trains trains went through his local station (see question 6) and discovered that one from Sizewell was timetabled in. It's quite hard to keep a 1000 tonne train that runs through multiple city centres secret, so they're not secret. The main reason they're not secret is because ...

Q 2) Are these trains bad/dangerous/unsafe?

No, not really: the containers that hold the nuclear waste, called flasks, are designed to withstand the full impact of an out-of-control freight train (see video below). The radiation dose you would receive if you were to stand on the platform as one rolled passed would be smaller than one you'd receive from eating a banana. Also important to note is that nothing in these flasks can go off like a Hiroshima bomb, or catch fire like the Chernobyl reactor.

Q 3) But isn't this helping terrorists?

As mentioned above, the train timetables are public, and terrorists can use google. A googling terrorist would also quickly discover the flasks are bullet and bomb proof, unopenable without specialist machinery and thus a pretty pointless target for a terror attack.

Q 4) Are you making this because you're anti-nuclear?


Q 5) Pro-nuclear?


Q 6) A pair of anoraks who like trainspotting and computer programming?

Bingo! This project combined our joint loves of writing software that analyses data in real time, and niche freight trains.

Q 7)Do you have a crudely hand drawn google map overlay of the routes these trains go?

You betcha...