I've always thought railroading is a simple busines. Step 1: We make up a train at point A and don't kill anyone in the process. Step 2: We move the train from point A to point B and we don't kill anyone in the process. Step 3: Repeat as often as needed, not killing anyone in the process. Mission accomplished
And I've always thought, railroading must be a simple business. That's the only explanation I have as to why I'm so good at it. It's simple. Easy as P-I-E, pie.
I remember attending a meeting about the design and construction of a brand new mainline and terminal designed to handle 24 trains an hour. The meeting was charged with figuring out how many platform tracks, and more limportantly, how many running tracks between the two mainline tracks and the platforms would be need to accommodate the 2.5 minute headways.
Those attending the meeting were split pretty evenly between railroad personnel and consultants, a split articulated acutely, hilariously even, when it came time to do the figuring. All, and I mean all, the railroad personnel took out a pencil and a sheet of paper from their jacket pockets. All, and again I mean all, the consultants opened their computers.
Simple business, simple math. Railroading is all about the genius of simple mathematics. Give me a pencil and paper, and a place to hear the OSes and I can move the world.
But every once in awhile, I read something, or see something that makes me wonder "Is it me? Am I the only one who thinks......"
Am I the only one who thinks this (whatever the this may be at the time) is about the stupidest, most jack-assed thing ever proposed, imposed, enforced, in the history of US railroading which is, to be sure, chock full of stupid and jack assed things?
It must be me.....
This turned up in my email box the other day:
WASHINGTON – The Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) today announced the launch of an iOS smartphone mobile application, the Rail Crossing Locator, which provides the public with easy access to safety information about the nation’s more than 200,000 highway-rail grade crossings.
“Safety is our highest priority, and at the Department of Transportation, we believe that giving people better information leads to smarter and safer travel,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood. “With the Rail Crossing Locator, individuals can use a mobile app to access information wherever they are to improve neighborhood safety and make better personal travel choices.”
The Rail Crossing Locator app works by prompting users to enter a specific location, which then allows them to locate highway-rail grade crossings in their area and retrieve important information, such as the physical characteristics of a crossing and the type of traffic control devices used. The app allows users to report information about grade crossings to the FRA to ensure the most accurate and up-to-date information is available. This new app is free through Apple’s App Store and can be used on any iPhone or iPad.
Over the past decade, highway-rail incidents have declined by 34 percent, and deaths resulting from these events have fallen 30 percent. However, while the total number of incidents has been trending downward, collisions at highway-rail crossings remain a challenge to safety. Last year alone, highway-rail crossing collisions accounted for nearly 20 percent of all reportable rail accidents and incidents and represented nearly one-third of all rail-related fatalities.
“While we’ve made significant progress in the reduction of highway-grade crossing incidents over the last decade, much more work remains to be done,” said Federal Railroad Administrator Joseph C. Szabo. “This technology will be one more tool to help us reach our goal of zero fatalities.”
The continuing decline in crossing incidents, injuries and fatalities is attributable to ongoing multifaceted public education efforts, engineering approaches to improve grade crossing safety and enforcement efforts carried out by FRA, railroads, states, localities, Operation Lifesaver, Inc. (OLI) and other partners.
Now..stop me if I'm being too severe, overly abrasive, employing language that is excessively harsh, but...but we're talking railroading here and raised voices, harsh words on the railroad are more than a rite of passage, more than a virtue, they are the lingua franca used in overseeing railroad operations anywhere and everywhere.
So... is it just me? Is it just me who thinks this "smartphone app" is just plain idiotic?
FRA has regulated against using cell phones by on duty operating employees on the grounds that it provides an intolerable distraction from the responsibilities of operating a train. FRA is right. Need we recall Chatsworth?
So now FRA offers a smartphone app re grade crossings? And exactly who is going to use it if not those driving automobiles, who can then be distracted from paying attention to the responsibilities of operating an automobile?
Did you hear the one about the guy whose car got hit at a grade crossing while he was busy looking up the grade crossing on the FRA's smartphone app?
You read it here first. But that's just me.
June 25, 2013
10% planning, 90% execution