If overseas visitors to Farnborough are surprised at all the changes to Britain's rail system, they will be astonished to learn that the heirs to British Rail could one day have an exhibit at an air show - a spaceship.

After breaking up BR into 90 privatised companies, there are a few bits and pieces which have yet to find a home.

One is a patent, filed in 1973, for a "space vehicle" powered by nuclear fusion. Somebody took the idea seriously, as the patent was updated several times.

You may be puzzled as the railway customers trying to make sense of today's timetables, but the British Rail Board has an explanation.

The invention dates back to the early 1970s and related to the oil crisis. For intellectual property reasons, the patent was filed in BR's name.

"Because the work was undertaken in BR time, it was filed in BR's name and we found ourselves with a patent for a flying saucer," says the spokesman, who adds that when the Board ceases to exist the patent may be allowed to lapse.

"We might approach the inventor, now retired, to see if he wants to renew it in his own name."



Source: Flight Daily News