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Tuesday, 24 November, 2020

Vehicle Versus Train

Date: 01 September, 2006

By: Chief

Imagef this means anything it hopefully means and shows to the casual observer that there are some people who are just either too stupid to live or too arrogant to live. Or possibly option 'C', all of the above.

You know, there has got to be something, somewhere, giving off some sort of a warning signal that should tell a reasonably intelligent person that if said person tries to out run a moving train at a railroad crossing — that person is going to lose. Sooner or later fate shall catch up with said person and said person's day, and more than likely said person's longevity shall be fatally shortened. Given such a precondition why in the world do people continue to tempt fate in such an obviously stupid way?

Yet we all have seen it happen, day in and day out. Joe Stupid, driving his car, pickup or SUV, is, in his own mind anyway, far too important or too stupid to just sit at a railroad crossing — when the warning gates are down no less — and simply let the train have the right of way and then, when it is safe to proceed — proceed. Nope old non compos mentis Joe will drive weavingly through the down crossing gates and, sooner or later, become a mere grease spot on the cow catcher (Joe catcher perhaps?) of the lead locomotive. Joe Stupid just became a statistic. The results are somewhat similar to what the last thing a bug sees when the bug hits your car windshield — his butthole.

We all know, or at the very least should know, that even the smallest of cars cannot stop on a dime. Furthermore, the faster the car is moving and the more it weighs the longer it takes the car, pickup or SUV to stop. Period. This is merely an exercise in elementary physics. Ask Newton. Oops, sorry about that, he's dead. Read up on Newton and his work in physics.

The same holds true with locomotives and trains. A single mainline locomotive can weigh in at over 400,000 pounds. That is just a single engine. The Electro-Motive Diesel (EMD) SD70ACe, my personal favorite by the way (along with the GP60M), locomotive tips the scales at 415,000 pounds. Additionally, I have personally seen numerous Santa Fe freight trains which had a minimum of six engines pulling a train that was between 6,000 to 8,000 feet in length. Over a mile long train. And these same trains can travel at sustained speeds in excess of 70 miles per hour. Needless to say trains do not and cannot stop on a dime either. Unless, of course, your dime is approximately two plus miles in diameter.

Even a train moving at a very slow speed will take a considerable distance before it has come to a complete stop. A prime example of this phenomenon happened quite some years ago at what was Naval Weapons Station, Concord, California. A bunch of protesters decided to block a freight train loaded with munitions on its way to Port Chicago from the weapons station so that the ordinance could be loaded onto ships of war. Now this train was powered by a single locomotive and the entire train was less than a dozen cars. The train was moving at approximately 5 miles per hour, maybe less, when a protester decided stupidily to lay across the tracks. The train crew saw the protester and applied emergency braking. The protester lost both of his legs — he was not a happy camper (I wonder if his friends call him "Stumpy"?). This, in turn, brings to mind the weapons station's unofficial motto — Naval Weapons Station Concord, we supply the arms — you supply the legs. Funny yes? I thought so also.

These collisions, these vehicle versus train screw-ups should never happen. But they do happen and they happen often. And when they do it takes a toll:

The train crew, while possibly traumatized by the event, should be traumatized in a very positive, possibly elated way. Why? Because they greatly contributed in the permanent removal of one or more fools from the human race gene pool. To be sure, as far as I am concerned the railroads ought to award medals to crews who have been involved in vehicle versus train collisions.

As for the now deceased Joe Stupid and passengers, if any, I do not feel sorry for them or their families. Not one little whit. If they are that stupid, and they were, they then deserved all they got. Indeed Joe Stupid and passengers, if any, individual loss was a distinct benefit to society and the human race at large. All we can hope for is the deceased had not yet successfully bred and produced offspring.

What really tics me off is after the collision Joe Stupid's surviving family either sues the railroad or whines to government or both. Because Joe Stupid was exactly that — his family blames the railroad. That makes no sense at all. Joe Stupid made the decision to tempt fate. Joe Stupid made the decision to play chicken with a moving train. And Joe lost. That is in no way the railroad's fault. In point of fact the only person to blame is Joe Stupid, now deceased.

The surviving family has no business whining to government either. Government has no business intervening because somebody's kin was an idiot. In this I am of the thought that if government decides to intervene they should intervene on behalf of the railroad. Possibly give an annual tax break to the railroad with the highest number of vehicle versus train collisions where the vehicle driver and any passengers were killed in the altercation.

The current quality of the human gene pool is decreasing at an alarming rate. Hence the more Joe Stupids and company who are eliminated by these kinds of collisions — the better.

Now if you happen to witness a vehicle versus train collision and there are fatalities, hopefully not of the train crew for they are the good guys, but should you shed a tear, be it a tear of joy as another idiot or more has just been exorcised from the gene pool. Keep everything crossed but your eyes.

Alas, so many idiots — so few trains.

[Ed. note: This story has been updated.]

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