Shots And Thoughts From An Ordinary Guy.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Rules, Rules, Rules!

No matter what the industry, sport, or situation, there are always rules, specifications, or some sort of parameters we must follow in life. Regardless of how ridiculous they may seem to us, most of the guidelines we live by have been developed because too many people have done something the wrong way too many times and either injured themselves, others, or a combination of both.

Take for instance the process of building a home. We must conform to the ways of the UBC (uniform building code) and any local building requirements. That is to ensure that the buildings we enter are safe. When we drive we must obey traffic rules to establish order and to protect us and those around us. Even something as simple as going to the local fast food restaurant and walking up to the counter... there is a sign telling us how to do that.

Well, things are no different on the railroad and for the next two days I am reminded of that fact. It is nice to sleep at night and go into the office each day for rules refresher testing that is for sure. During our refresher course today we were able to see a video of just why the rules are so important to follow. I found the video on youtube and thought I would share it.

Notice a couple of things that most non-railroaders would miss. When the train begins to enter the siding, the control signal goes from a green signal on the bottom to a red. Also, just before impact you can see the engineer from the oncoming train jump from his locomotive. The "smoke" coming from the wheels of the oncoming locomotive is actually sand dust. When an emergency brake application is initiated on a locomotive the sanders come on to give the engine better traction.

The oncoming train was supposed to stop and allow the other train to enter the siding to pass. As you can see the oncoming train didn't follow the rules. There is speculation as to why. Things such as crew fatigue because of a railroaders crazy sleep schedule, not paying attention, or just not being able to handle the train properly. Whatever the cause the bottom line is that the operating rules were not followed.

My point in sharing this is to stress the importance of railroad operating rules. Fortunately in this incident no one was killed. All crew members sustained injuries, especially the man who jumped off his locomotive at approximately 35 mph. Had the rules that they were operating under been followed this most unfortunate situation would have been avoided.

Even when we are frustrated, tired, or just plain feeling ornery, I need to remember that the rules are there to protect me and keep things on the railroad somewhat sane. I believe that some rules are ridiculous and many seem meaningless, but all in all, by placing myself under the rules I am acknowledging that I will work with in the rules. That way I can return home to my family at the end of a trip on my feet... and not in a box.

just a thought


1 comment:

Brit said...

Oh man. That's scary. You have a cool job, hahaha. Stay safe.