Monstrous trains

An aspect of the supply chain collapse most of us haven’t given a lot of thought to, if any.

Imagine a train 16,400 feet in length weighing 17,500 tons: That is three miles, 560 feet and 35 million pounds. One train. And it is hauling hazmat, tanks of say, chlorine gas, or anhydrous ammonia. Just one tank car alone weighs 131 tons, that is 262,000 pounds. To give an example from history, 262,000 pounds of chlorine gas is approximately two-thirds of what the German army used during the trench warfare of all of WWI. One tank car alone.

“And then we pick up more enroute! My conductor is three miles away while I reverse this train into an active rail yard! Crossings don’t matter, and communities? Are you kidding? No sane country would move materials like this. These trains exceed the coupler and drawbar limits of the very cars themselves. The risks the Class I carriers are taking is a race to disaster. It is absolutely dreadful and grotesque.

Another Precision Scheduled Railroading factor in supply chain failure: Even when the majority of these PSR trains make it, without dramatic ends, they rarely get across the road during a crew members hours of service (HOS) time limit, which is 12 hours. Several factors:

“The rail infrastructure, in particular rail yards and sidings, were designed and built during the great Industrial Age. They did a lot of things right: they overbuilt bridges, for one. But it is not a failure of imagination that they could not foresee, from a sane perspective, that someday the bosses would want to normalize 15,000-foot trains.

“Yards and sidings do not accommodate this scale. It is a clash of function and design. So, imagine this: A 15,800-foot train with distributed power locomotives placed in the middle and at the rear of a train, comes to work a station with 4,500-foot tracks and needs to pick up and set out cars in the middle and rear of the train. This will not be lickety-split.

Plenty more at the link, all of it both fascinating and terrifying at once. Bayou Pete follows up:

All I can say is, my hat’s off to anyone who takes on a job like that. The stress must be beyond most people’s imagination. Also, if something goes badly wrong and the train is involved in a major derailment or collision, the crew’s safety is probably anything but guaranteed. The inertia built up by such weights, at such speeds, makes it impossible to slow down or stop in any meaningfully short distance. The crew are going to have to jump for their lives (at speeds almost guaranteed to cause serious injury or death) or ride it all the way to impact, in the desperate hope they won’t be smeared all over the wreckage like strawberry jam. That’s not much of a choice.

When I think of the long, long trains of tank cars and chemical cars that I see rumbling through our little town every single day, and realize that even one of those cars carries enough potentially lethal cargo to kill every person within city limits in a matter of minutes…it puts a whole new perspective on rail safety.

Don’t it, though. Don’t it just. Over the years I’ve known a cpl-three guys who worked as train engineers, brakemen, even one out in Arizona who was a conductor, if I remember right, for Amtrak. My cousin Steve, who has had a huge fascination with trains his whole life and is locally famous for his incredible collection of HO-scale model railroad builds, used to say to me: “I really wanted to work for the railroad, until I found out the job would involve having to go out and decouple those big steel boxcars during a lightning storm. That’s when I lost all interest in it.” As it happens, that’s also when I realized how happy I was that I’d never had any interest in it to start with.

0 0 votes
Article Rating
3 Comments
Oldest
Newest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Jaybo

Trains make sense, that’s why we don’t have them

Barry

“…and realize that even one of those cars carries enough potentially lethal cargo to kill every person within city limits in a matter of minutes…it puts a whole new perspective on rail safety.

“It puts a whole new perspective on” hyperbole.

How many derailed trains and whole community deaths do you recall in your lifetime?

None. Zero. Zilch. Doesn’t happen. You have to spread out the “lethal cargo” to do this and that doesn’t happen. One pound, yes one pound, of plutonium would kill everyone on earth. Funny how that works.

Henry Cybulski

In 2013, a 73-car train carrying crude oil killed 47 and all but destroyed the downtown section of Lac-Megantic, Quebec. The train had been left parked (the engineer headed to a hotel for the night) on a slight incline about 7 miles west of the town. It seems either the breaks failed or weren’t set properly.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lac-M%C3%A9gantic_rail_disaster

Comments policy

Comments appear entirely at the whim of the guy who pays the bills for this site and may be deleted, ridiculed, maliciously edited for purposes of mockery, or otherwise pissed over as he in his capricious fancy sees fit. The CF comments section is pretty free-form and rough and tumble; tolerance level for rowdiness and misbehavior is fairly high here, but is NOT without limit. Management is under no obligation whatever to allow the comments section to be taken over and ruined by trolls, Leftists, and/or other oxygen thieves, and will take any measures deemed necessary to prevent such. Conduct yourself with the merest modicum of decorum, courtesy, and respect and you'll be fine. Pick pointless squabbles with other commenters, fling provocative personal insults, issue threats, or annoy the host (me) and...you won't. Should you find yourself sanctioned after running afoul of the CF comments policy as stated and feel you have been wronged, please download and complete the Butthurt Report form below in quadruplicate; retain one copy for your personal records and send the others to the email address posted in the right sidebar. Please refrain from whining, sniveling, and/or bursting into tears and waving your chubby fists around in frustrated rage, lest you suffer an aneurysm or stroke unnecessarily. Your completed form will be reviewed and your complaint addressed whenever management feels like getting around to it. Thank you.

Categories

Archives

"Mike Hendrix is, without a doubt, the greatest one-legged blogger in the world." ‐Henry Chinaski

Subscribe to CF!

Support options

Shameless begging

If you enjoy the site, please consider donating:

Allied territory

Alternatives to shitlib social media:

Fuck you

Kill one for mommy today! Click to embiggen

Notable Quotes

"America is at that awkward stage. It's too late to work within the system, but too early to shoot the bastards." – Claire Wolfe, 101 Things to Do 'Til the Revolution

"There are men in all ages who mean to govern well, but they mean to govern. They promise to be good masters, but they mean to be masters." — Daniel Webster

“The illusion of freedom will continue as long as it’s profitable to continue the illusion. At the point where the illusion becomes too expensive to maintain, they will just take down the scenery, they will pull back the curtains, they will move the tables and chairs out of the way and you will see the brick wall at the back of the theater.” – Frank Zappa

“The right of a nation to kill a tyrant in case of necessity can no more be doubted than to hang a robber, or kill a flea.” - John Adams

"A society of sheep must in time beget a government of wolves." -- Bertrand de Jouvenel

"It is terrible to contemplate how few politicians are hanged." - GK Chesterton

"I predict that the Bush administration will be seen by freedom-wishing Americans a generation or two hence as the hinge on the cell door locking up our freedom. When my children are my age, they will not be free in any recognizably traditional American meaning of the word. I’d tell them to emigrate, but there’s nowhere left to go. I am left with nauseating near-conviction that I am a member of the last generation in the history of the world that is minimally truly free." - Donald Surber

"The only way to live free is to live unobserved." - Etienne de la Boiete

"History does not long entrust the care of freedom to the weak or the timid." — Dwight D. Eisenhower

"To put it simply, the Left is the stupid and the insane, led by the evil. You can’t persuade the stupid or the insane and you had damn well better fight the evil." - Skeptic

"There is no better way to stamp your power on people than through the dead hand of bureaucracy. You cannot reason with paperwork." - David Black, from Turn Left For Gibraltar

"The limits of tyranny are prescribed by the endurance of those whom they oppress." - Frederick Douglass

"Give me the media and I will make of any nation a herd of swine." - Joseph Goebbels

“I hope we once again have reminded people that man is not free unless government is limited. There’s a clear cause and effect here that is as neat and predictable as a law of physics: As government expands, liberty contracts.” - Ronald Reagan

"Ain't no misunderstanding this war. They want to rule us and aim to do it. We aim not to allow it. All there is to it." - NC Reed, from Parno's Peril

"I just want a government that fits in the box it originally came in." - Bill Whittle

Best of the best

Image swiped from The Last Refuge

2016 Fabulous 50 Blog Awards

RSS feed

RSS - entries - Entries
RSS - entries - Comments

Contact


mike at this URL dot com

All e-mails assumed to be legitimate fodder for publication, scorn, ridicule, or other public mockery unless otherwise specified

Boycott the New York Times -- Read the Real News at Larwyn's Linx

Copyright © 2022