Monday, May 20, 2013

1176 Trains and Boats and Planes... Oh, and Buses


1176 Trains and Boats and Planes... Oh, and Buses

Someone offers you a free cruise, no strings attached, what do you say?  How about “I want strings and I want them attached to shore, otherwise, no thanks.”

Someone offers you a free round trip flight from Podunk International Airport to, say, London, what do you answer?  How about “only if I don’t have to walk ten miles and wait five hours for the four plane changes and if I can FedEx my luggage to the hotel ahead of time.”

Someone offers you a free ride on a bus?  We’ve dealt with that issue before so no details today.

Someone offers you a free round trip ride from Grand Central to New Haven, what do you answer?  How about “No!”

The part of Metro North that was the scene of the crash?  Scratch it, and beneath the surface it’s still the New Haven Railroad with all that implies.

The thing is being investigated as an accident.  The NTSB took it’s time getting to the site.  They couldn’t catch a train or a plane.  They had to drive.

Probably going to turn out to be an accident.  But if it turns out to be Al Qaeda or the IRA or some local wannabe -- even an angry commuter set out to cause havoc... they picked an easy target.

They’re looking at a piece of broken rail, the chief suspect.  How do you suppose they’ll send that to the lab?  Same way you FedEx your luggage?  Bring it to the UPS Store and let them pack it for you?  Take it to the Post Office?

A yard of rail weighs about 100 pounds.  Can we afford that during the sequester?

Can we expect a result better than “yup, that rail is busted, alright.”

The New Haven (officially The New Haven & Hartford) Railroad started in 1872 and technically died in 1968.  (It is possible the 8:02 from Danbury scheduled to arrive at Grand Central on December 3, 1903 will reach its destination some time before its actual 100th anniversary if all the passengers haven’t died of old age by then.)

But while the name and corporate structure were absorbed into the Penn Central and then the MTA tangle, the New Haven’s problems lived on and live on today.

They walk tracks.  All railroads do.  Sometimes they walk them, carrying a magical gizmo that can detect metal fatigue before you see the cracks.  So if this piece of parcel post was broken before the derailment and not by it, someone is going to have some explaining to do.

Shrapnel:

--The shooting death of a Hofstra University student days before she would have been graduated is a tragedy for her family, the school and the county police.  It’s tough to second guess a cop who broke up a home invasion, killed the home invader and the woman.  It was the last of the eight shots fired that took the life of the hostage.

I’m Wes Richards.  My opinions are my own but you’re welcome to them. ®
Please address comments to wesrichards@gmail.com
© WJR 2013

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