I have been reading the reports of the terrible disaster in Canada with the runaway train carrying pressurised containers of fuel.
The pictures reaching this side of the Atlantic are truly horrific.
The BBC news site at http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-us-canada-23218614 is carrying some of these pictures and also video footage.
Part of the BBC report quotes the following: –
The Montreal, Maine & Atlantic train had five locomotive engines and was parked in the village of Nantes – about 7km (four miles) from Lac-Megantic – during an overnight driver shift-change, said a company spokesman.
A driver had parked the train and put the brakes of its engines on “properly” before going to a local hotel for the night, said the spokesman, Joe McGonigle.
But the fuel cars somehow became uncoupled, causing them to roll downhill into the town and derail, he added.
Units just don’t somehow become uncoupled, especially when stationary, there has to be something happen to the coupling. Also unless the rolling stocks units were not individually braked, which I very much doubt then normally if there is a break in the coupling or the brake linkage between the units then brakes will fail ON not OFF. Thus preventing normally a runaway such as appears to have occurred here. Who knows perhaps the coupling was tampered with and the brakes were not adequate for the weight of the units. We of course at this stage don’t know and we may never know. I have no experience of the braking system used in Canada and more specifically on this particular train.
I am sure that such questions will be asked on an investigation, and let’s hope they find the answers as railway safety is taken very seriously.
I am lucky in that I have never been caught up in a disaster on this scale and I honestly hope I never will. Just to look at the devastation caused and the mounting loss of life does, I will freely admit make me feel very sad indeed.
My thoughts are with the families of those affected, it is a terrible situation to be put in and my thoughts are also with the victims and I hope the death toll does not rise to the level that some expect.