This will be interesting. Come the Olympic summer we'll be competing for emergency driving space on the roads with rail engineers.
We claim a legal exemption so that we can drive at speed, cross over red lights and do the 'fun' stuff that the general public think we do just for fits and giggles.
For some reason the police will be asked to either escort or carry rail staff in order to get them to broken down trains or trackside emergencies necessitating 'surgery' or something. Now, if the police are carrying these individuals then at least there will be a professionally trained and highly experienced emergency driver at the wheel. But if they escort another vehicle; one with a rail engineer driver in charge, aren't we looking at a potentially very dangerous situation?
And where is the legal exemption? If we have an accident during a blue light journey, we will be expected to justify our driving. If we are found to have been driving recklessly, then we face the same punishments as every other driver. Technically, even crossing a red light is still illegal and we must 'give way', not just barge through at 50mph. This is why drivers are not legally obliged to get out of our way; it's still a courtesy, unless they are deliberately obstructing us.
So, if a police vehicle collides with another vehicle, or a pedestrian, and someone is killed... or the rail engineer's vehicle crashes, with similar consequences, what will be the reason given for the accidental death of an innocent? Was another life at risk? Was the journey necessary at such speed for the sake of the health and future quality of life of an very sick person? Not really; the journey will have been deemed important for the sake of convenience to rail passengers during a high profile event. It will keep our transport system running 'smoothly' (and that is a contradictory term anyway).
It's all well and good to introduce so-called emergency status to rail engineers for the sake of public image (well it must be because they don't do this at any other time) but I think I'd find it easier to swallow if gas engineers, or the big motoring organisations were allowed to travel on blue lights instead. After all, people die when gas escapes and there's potential for death and injury on the road when you're stranded, right?
And while I'm at it, why not give the RSPCA and every Vet in the country a blue light and siren? Are animals not important enough to deserve our immediate attention?