Tuesday, 28 May 2013

Trains in the news, for all the wrong reasons

This week has been a particularly downer week for rail related news.

It started just over a week ago with a pair of commuter trains colliding in Connecticut, then on the 25th with a collision of two trains in Missouri, then today we have a derailment in Baltimore that resulted in explosions, fire and evacuation and more locally a delay in commuter service for a trespasser strike by a GO train near East Gwillimbury

early this morning.  I'm surprised at how casual people consider railway tracks to be.  I see them all the time crossing them, walking across bridges, walking along the tracks often in enclosed areas.  When I'm out shooting images or vids of trains, sometimes I'm near some high speed areas.  It doesn't take much time for a train doing 70 or so miles an hour to come up on you, especially if it's near a bend in the track as the sound doesn't always make the turn very well.  I'm often caught flat footed trying to get my camera turned on when I finally realize a train is rounding the curve and very often I'll miss the shot, it's often just a matter of seconds.  Even lower speed trains are deceptively fast, and often much quieter if they are powering down.  An approaching GO train at the non-powered is already pretty quiet with the engine 10 cars away, and when powering down it's almost impossible to hear until it's right there.  One hopes the operator is aware enough to blast the horn.

Speaking of the operators and engineers, I can't image being in that position where you see someone on the tracks ahead, you blast the emergency horn and thrown on the brakes but there's no way to stop in time and you have to be there witnessing this from the front row.  It has to be the most stressful aspect of rail work there can be.  It's no wonder the rail security and police are unforgiving when it comes to dealing with tresspassers and barrier crossers.

My main rule for shooting images and vids is to make sure they're taken from legal and safe positions and stress whenever I can that it's a big no-no to venture onto the tracks or poke around inside right-of-ways.

Take this guy for instance:

This is on a busy right-of-way, closed off all around by high ROW fencing, and yet there he is strolling along.  I'm surprised nothing came around the bend at that time and I'd be really curious about how the operator would handle this one, particularly since this is a freight line with large, heavy and hard to stop trains.  Hopefully it would have a non-tragic ending but you can be sure that many of the strikes are exactly like this, someone tresspassing on rail property and right-on-the-tracks at that.

What's more surprising, I see adults taking their kids over bridges and inside fencing onto tracks and I keep thinking they should know better than that.

Railways are risky places.

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