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Train Derailments


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A family story.  There were railroaders on my father's side.  His dad was a brakeman, his grandfather a conductor, his great uncle an  engineer.   My grandfather, the brakeman, fell of a train at night walking along roof walks from car to car setting brake wheels  with a long bar for leverage they called a hickey.   They found him the next day dead of course.

That was 1920's before airbrakes were mandatory on freight cars that crossed state lines.  A railroad pension and death benefits helped raise my father and his sister.

Railroads reduced cost and improved safety at the same time by adopting better technology for  the last 100 years.  In my grandfather's day, there was a crew of engineer, conductor, fireman, and up to three brakeman required to crew a large train.   Better brakes were safer and saved money for railroads by requiring one or no brakemen as time progressed.  Better traffic control systems eliminated the need for cabooses and conductors on all trains and saved the railroads a lot of money.   

My family never had to crew a train with 40 cars of ethanol, vinyl chlorides, chlorine gas, and other hazardous materials through all of those little Texas towns along the rails.

Now it is not so much the safety of the crew but of the communities that is at stake as more hazardous cargoes are moved.     Technology and improvements did not stop because the railroads wanted to increase profits by ignoring them.   Why do we need them to improve?       I would say it is because of the nature of the cargo they regularly haul, those in which a leak or accident can devastate a town.

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4 hours ago, spartan max2 said:

Finally a chance for Gen Zers to own a home lol

I like that. I'm a glass half full guy myself. 

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1 minute ago, F3SS said:

I like that. I'm a glass half full guy myself. 

It was a mostly tongue in cheek comment. But when I struggled buying a house a couple years ago I now can't help but notice those affordable prices haha

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