Sunday, December 01, 2013

3805 Train wreck, in more ways than one.

Sunday, December 1, 2013

I turn the TV on for only four shows a week these days.  One of them is "Sunday Morning", although I've been disappointed in that show for the past few years.  Lately it's been just celebrity-type stuff, with a hidden sales pitch, rather than what's happening out there in the "real" countryside, like back when it was Charles Kuralt, remember him?  (Joke:   "My home town is so small Charles Kuralt has been there three times!")

Anyway, I was up this morning, turned the TV on, and instead of "Sunday Morning", it was a report on the Metro North train derailment.  Four dead so far, but so many are in critical condition I think unfortunately that number will rise.  I haven't heard yet how many people in total were on the train.  It had left Poughkeepsie (that's pronounced P-kip'-see by the natives, Po-kip'-see by newcomers, abbreviated "Pok") just before 6 am, due to arrive at Grand Central a bit before 8 am, so it wouldn't have been crowded - likely mostly people who work in the city, maybe some returning from the holiday.  There are a lot of commuters from the Pok area since the mass exodus from Manhattan after 9/11.  I'm sure some work on Sundays.


I am familiar with that train route.  That's the line I took from the country house on the few occasions I ventured into the city.  It runs alongside the east bank of the Hudson, and is quite scenic.

Amtrak trains running between Albany and NYC stop in Rhinecliff, and that's actually much closer to the house, only a few minutes drive.  But an Amtrak ticket is a small fortune, the trains go to Penn Station, the local station is manned only a few hours on weekdays, and there's no real parking lot in the tiny village of Rhinecliff.  You have to compete for parking along the river.  So I would drive the 40 minutes south to Pok where there are huge parking lots and a well-manned station, and take a Metro North train, which was a LOT cheaper and goes to Grand Central.  Metro North cars are the same trains that serve inside the city - some are actual subway trains.  Pok is the northern-most terminus of the NYC subway system.  Weird, huh?

Since so many people moved north after 9/11, there's been a lot of noise about extending Metro North up to Rhinecliff, but I doubt that will ever happen. 

Anyway - the point, finally.

Because Pok is the end of the line, they USED to have an engine at the north end of the train to pull it north, AND an engine at the south end to pull it south.  Then someone came up with a brilliant cost-saving idea.  They now have one engine, on the north end, which pulls it north, and PUSHES it south.


Any child knows that if you link some wagons together and pull them, they follow, and if one somehow goes off the path, it might pull others out of line, but they aren't going to jam up (well, from momentum, but that's all the energy in the jam).  But if you try to push them, if one goes off the path, the following ones will jam up and push even more off the path because of the energy coming from behind, and likely spill the contents.  Violently.

I hope Metro North saved a zillion dollars with that idiotic idea, because those passengers ought to sue the pants off them.

And I'm not an advocate of lawsuits for every little thing.


On the TV, there was a reporter talking from "near" the scene.  She startled me at first by reporting that "five of the seven trains" derailed.   Five trains!  Good Grief!  How does that happen!?  "One train almost went into the river".  "Several trains were on their sides".  And so on.

As she went on over the next half hour, it dawned on me that she was calling the passenger CARS "trains".  Does she not know what a "train", a series of linked things, in this case passenger cars, is?

There had to be people around her.  Why did no one correct her?  It got to the point that I was yelling at the TV, wanted to reach through the screen and personally strangle her.

I guess someone finally clued her in, because she started talking about cars.

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