Railroad vs Nature
- I used to live in New Zealand, a small country in the south pacific, (but a huge model railroad/railway interest) the Main rail system there runs on Meter guage (with some standard guage Loco's from the states on smaller "trucks"). Anyways, these large Islands that make up the nation, are on the "rim of fire", a very active volcanic region, and they get a lot of massive earthquakes. I remember one I was in, (and funny enough slept through) that regestered over 7.4 on the rictor scale, knocked a loco off the tracks on its side, buckled the main line, and caused almost every brick chimney in town to fall over! Another time a couple of weeks after a big storm that flooded and washed out most roads in the region, only the railways passenger service (the main line was designed with these regular floods in mind) was the only way anyone could get in or out of the area until the flood waters lowered. Interesting thing is, because of the frequency and intensity of the Earthquakes in New Zealand, construction techniques are very specialised, buildings are designed to not only handle these conditions, but bridges, storage and industry facilities and even back yard pools!! The country also has a very rich rail heratige, and you will find clubs and layouts, old steam loco's, minature and fully restored steam all over. I highly recommend if you guys are every looking for a place which is fairly safe (ie, you can drink the tap water) and has a good exchange rate, pack your camera's, do some internet research, (you would probably be able to line up visiting various layouts around the country) and take a month or 6 weeks to travel around. very tourist friendly.
The other Train disaster video I got to see this last week, was the AMtrack sunset limited Disaster (47 dead) in Alabama Mobile (river), in dense fog a group of barges accidently takes a wrong turn and rams an older bridge with 2 of the barges they are pushing, one barge impacts with a strut doing minimal damage, the 2nd one hits the brige, knocking it severl feet out of alignment, without breaking the tracks (somthing similar that I saw happen with the main line after that large earthquake)so it didnt set off the safety's. Later on it becomes apparent that the bridge was orignally built to act as a swing bridge, but never eventuated, the span ended up basically resting on the strut, without being properly anchored. The barge impact at the low speed it hit, was enough to knock it out. The show, (done by national geographic, called "seconds form disaster") gets really in depth with the investigation, I thought was really well done. But in no way would it stop me riding the rails, I would rather be in a train than a plane or a car anyday!