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Wednesday, 30 October 2013

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UP: Awful company that has painted over the entire American rail heritage in screaming Armour Yellow.

UP: BEST COMPANY EVER for doing this:
http://www.up.com/aboutup/special_trains/steam/locomotives/4014.shtml

I’ve had a healthy respect for the danger of trains ever since a “close call” in the late 1970’s. I was then living in Sioux City, Iowa, working on the outskirts of the downtown area, a graveyard shift until about 6:00 in the morning. Sioux City gets a lot (a lot!) of snow, and frigid temperatures in the winter (I had to take the battery out of my car and bring it inside every night or it would be dead in the morning from the cold). After leaving work and starting my car, like most people I think, I did not want to sit and wait 15 minutes for everything to heat up and the windows to thaw (heaters in 1960 model cars were nowhere near what they are today). I scrapped a patch off the front windshield and back window and set out for home.

There was no traffic that time of the morning and I was cruising at a good clip (In Sioux City in the winter you drive your car like you would a snow mobile). Everything was dark still and after a few minutes I thought I saw a light out of the right window so I scrunched my face closer to the windshield to make it out and saw it was a train. I was maybe 50 feet from a crossing, with no crossing lights or warning signals of any kind, and the snow had pretty much muffled all sound from anything. I put on the brakes (couldn’t turn left or right, couldn’t speed up due to the slippery roads) and started sliding. The crossing was coming up fast and my car was timed to hit it, it felt, just a second before the train would be passing. The car finally came to a stop not more than 6 or 12 inches from the edge of the track as this monster sized piece of metal came rumbling through like a moving wall right in front of my car. It still gives me chills even today when I think about it, and I can still feel the perception of helplessness I had in the face of that train.

cfw

You may also have missed http://dumbwaystodie.com/ which went viral a while ago - "Dumb Ways to Die is a public service announcement campaign by Metro Trains in Melbourne, Victoria, Australia, to promote rail safety."

Thank you so, so much for taking the time to address the issue of photos on RR tracks. As a passenger Conductor my blood almost boils when I see people taking photos on and near tracks (or walking on tracks or ducking under the crossing guards...).
One other point that's important for those that think they're smarter than the train, sometimes you cannot hear it coming or even feel it. Our passenger trains are light compared to the freights and sneak up on you FAST. By the time you hear it it's too late. Also, I've been in the engine and seen people too close absolutely panic and jump ONTO the tracks, and many times trip on the uneven ballast, ties or rail.

Not to mention the mental, physical and emotional toll a trespasser strike takes on the entire crew involved. Engineers constantly 2nd guess their response times, etc afterwards, and the conductors actually have to step off the train to go find the victim and offer first aid (if that's even possible). Crews generally experience chronic or acute PTSD (nightmares, jumpiness, depression, irritability, etc) and are never the same. I'm glad in 6 years i've only had one fatality but there are coworkers of mine who have had 5 or more (a few of them double digits!).

We also can't forget the passengers on board, many of them small children who we attempt to shield the incident from, as well as vacationers and commuters who now have their travel plans put on hold for multiple hours while authorities are called, investigations completed...

As you can tell, it's a subject near to my heart so thank you, thank you for getting the word out.

Side note: a photographer friend of mine told me that the tracks SHE photographed weren't in use so her decision wasn't harmful but thanks for the concern. Train tracks are far too romanticized!!

Thanks for your time.

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