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Pushing The Envelope, Part IV: Train Wrecks

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Bloviating Zeppelin: Pushing The Envelope, Part IV: Train Wrecks

Bloviating Zeppelin

(in-ep-toc'-ra-cy) - a system of government where the least capable to lead are elected by the least capable of producing, and where the members of society least likely to sustain themselves or succeed, are rewarded with goods and services paid for by the confiscated wealth of a diminishing number of producers.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Pushing The Envelope, Part IV: Train Wrecks

The human being has always pushed the envelope into and beyond the realms of danger. This is the fourth of various Sunday postings displaying how restless Man is with the mundane and how he purposely crosses the threshold into danger willingly -- and sometimes unwillingly.

The above video is taken from the window-cam of a diesel-electric locomotive. I am unable to tell if the engineer and conductor were still in the cab of this locomotive when the collision occurred. However, if you look closely at the oncoming locomotive, a BNSF engine, you'll notice that at around :40 you can see one of its crew leaping away onto the ground prior to the impact. This occurred at the Kismet Siding in California, 2006. The westbound (oncoming) train ignored signal indications. Below is a photo of the oncoming first unit. Amazingly enough, no one died in this collision.

At EVOC we have a theorem called the Lug Nut rule, which goes something like this: in an accident, 5 lug nuts beat 4, 10 lug nuts beat 6, cleated tracks beat all lug nuts and rail beats everything.

Here, you can see that, even with older diesel-electric locomotives of roughly 3,500 hp, any vehicle will lose to a train. Also, please note that, in these tests archived by Pentrex, the units involved were able to stop in remarkably short distances. An average unit train roughly 1 or 1.25 miles long (about 90 to 120 cars), for example, traveling around 55 mph will need at least a mile to stop with the braking systems in full emergency. Remember, the contact patch of a locomotive or car wheel (that portion of the wheel actually touching the rail) is the size of a dime.

Train vs. semi-truck? No contest.

The horrible results of not lining the switch back for the main, after having taken your train off on a siding:

Any time you potentially clash or cross paths with a train or a locomotive, you are most definitely pushing the envelope.



Blogger Well Seasoned Fool said...

Toponas, CO, 1956, my father was a Section Foreman for the Denver & Rio Grande. All traffic was controlled by a dispatcher. Communication was via a telephone system. For rail workers, the dispatcher would issue a "block"; a time when no traffic would be allowed on a rail segment. A single engine left Phippsburg, CO, 18 miles away, eastbound during my father's block. The engine struck my father's eastbound motor car as I watched from our front door. At the last second, my father glanced over his shoulder, saw the engine, and bailed off. The motor car went airborne and then rolled several times along the right of way.

I remember looking for my father as the engine cleared where he bailed and seeing him lying motionless. The relief when he got up cussing was wonderful.

The crew never stopped. Probably didn't want to face my father!

The fault finding went on for weeks but my father was cleared of any fault. To this day I respect the power of a train. I'm a traffic scofflaw except at rail crossings.

Sun Jan 24, 01:15:00 PM PST  
Blogger Old NFO said...

We had a saying... Law of gross tonnage applies... :-)

Sun Jan 24, 02:24:00 PM PST  
Blogger Ron Russell said...

Yep, the train almost always wins. I saw a train-auto mixup once when I was 11 years old the train pushed the car for one block before stopping--five dead in car, zero in train. I said before the train almost always win--once while deep inside Mexico I saw the result of train vs rock slide---no contest, train totally destroyed, rock slide in tact. Nothing wins against mother nature!

Sun Jan 24, 02:25:00 PM PST  
Blogger Bloviating Zeppelin said...

Well Seasoned Fool: then perhaps you might like my trainblog at Milepost 154. I live in the Sierra Nevada mountains at about the 4,000-foot elevation, less than a quarter mile from a portion of the Transcontinental Railroad, actually Tracks 1 & 2 of the Union Pacific Roseville Subdivision. I've been a railfan for about 20 years, and I post the photographs I've taken on my blog. I still have dial-up at that elevation so I don't make tons of posts -- yet. But I'm still trying to find either satellite or local RF internet.

NFO: those are holy words, sir!

Ron: and that TOO is a Truism!!


Looks like the Colts are in the Super Bowl once again!!

Sun Jan 24, 03:38:00 PM PST  
Blogger Law and Order Teacher said...

I always tell my students in class when they ask, the most gruesome things I ever saw was car crashes. Hands down. Moving metal vs. humans, no contest. Good post.

Sun Jan 24, 04:24:00 PM PST  
Blogger Bloviating Zeppelin said...

LOT: you got it; TC's, suicides involving weapons and homicides.

Vikings and Saints tied at the half!


Sun Jan 24, 05:21:00 PM PST  
Blogger Tim said...

BZ- To deal with the dial up dilemma get a WI-FI laptop and just do those posts from Starbucks, McDonald's, or a bunch of other places. Hospitals have free WI-FI too. I use it when I am there waiting to service the heart lung machines all the time. There's tons of free WI-FI all over.

Tue Jan 26, 02:43:00 PM PST  
Blogger Bloviating Zeppelin said...

Tim: that's a good point except that, when at home, I'm isolated by mountains and there's no cell service at my house. I'm on the wrong side of the mountain, away from the sites all along I-80.

I'm trying not to go satellite, because it's so expensive and because if you use a lot of bandwidth they kick your ass off. I'd LOVE nothing more than to hook up with Blog Talk Radio and have a show; at this point I can't even pick up local Sacramento AM radio stations where I live.


Wed Jan 27, 04:54:00 PM PST  

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