West Virginia Oil Train Derailment ?

I was just thinking that the controversial Keystone pipeline could significantly reduce oil train traffic on US railroads and no doubt Wind Farm Subsidy junkie Warren Buffet is keen to stop it given his railroad investments.  However many such derailments could be easily avoided by the provision of a Caboose and a man at the end of the train or if it really long one in the middle also.   I’ve just seen the latest BBC news report and this time it would appear to be down to the state of the track and perhaps Buffet is presiding over The Great Smashem & Cheatham Railway, unfit for purpose like Railtrack was here in the UK back in 2000 ?

It is often the case that the such derailments are caused by an axle bearing overheating to a point where the end of the affected tanker axle sheared off thus causing the derailment and fire.  If there had been men in cabooses at the end and in the middle if it was a particularly long train even if they didn’t actually see any smoke they would have smelt the overheated axle-box and stopped the train long before it derailed.  This principle was amply illustrated in an old B/W US railroad film entitled Fast Freight I once saw which was made at the time of the introduction of diesels.

The same principle applied here in my home UK where back in the mid 1980s it cost BR an absolute fortune ( multi-millions ) to repair Summit Tunnel on the old L&Y Manchester-Leeds line between Rochdale and Todmorden after an oil train fire inside.  Again it could have been easily avoided with a guard in a brake-van even if he was made technically redundant with the provision of line-side automatic hot-box detectors.  I was once informed that said hot-box detectors were pretty unreliable often stopping trains for no good reason thus encouraging staff to ignore them for the efficient running of the network.


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