NASA's slow degeneration continues. It clearly shows how our 'public' systems are collapsing. Two separate trains carrying space shuttle parts from Utah to Florida derailed. One was going only 20 mph and it fell off the tracks, the other was a bridge collapse. This is so stupid. Both happened where the USA is flat as a pancake. While China builds high-tech rail service, ours continues to rot to hell. We waste our wealth rebuilding over and over, Iraq, while the USA falls apart.
A freight train carrying segments of the space shuttle's solid rocket boosters derailed Wednesday after a bridge collapsed, authorities said. Six people aboard the train were reported injured.
NASA said it was not immediately known whether the equipment was damaged. But space agency spokesman Allard Beutel in Washington said the accident should not delay any shuttle launches.
The cause of the bridge collapse was under investigation.
For political reasons, they scattered the building of the shuttle all over kingdom come. The savings of the space shuttle via reusable parts became a total farce right off the bat. The logic of present systems whereby the cost and energy used to cart things hither and yon don't matter is a lie. It matters a lot. The fact that the larger space shuttle parts must move by train and that Congress and industry have joined forces in neglecting or actively destroying our rail systems means frequent train accidents like the ones that are plaguing NASA this month.
NASA spokesman Kyle Herring said the segments were not scheduled for use during the next shuttle flight, the liftoff of Atlantis on June 8, but for missions in October and December. NASA's solid rocket boosters and their parts are freely interchangeable.
It was the second time in less than a week that the train jumped the tracks while carrying the booster segments across the country from the manufacturer, ATK Launch Systems Group of Promontory, Utah, to Cape Canaveral, Fla., Herring said.
Last Friday, two axles on one car came off the tracks for unknown reasons about 60 miles west of Salina, Kan., while the train was traveling at less than 20 mph, Herring said. The train was back on the tracks after several hours, the spokesman said.
I love trains and have ridden in a wide variety of trains across the planet. I have watched our train system decline over the course of my own life from the 1950's to today. What a joke, going only 20 mph in the flattest state in America and the wheels fall off? Gads. Over time, train tracks degrade. The bed shifts, the rails get twisted by the freeze/thaw cycle pulling them in various directions, etc. The condition of America's rail systems is disgusting.
I sit above some of the rail systems here in Albany and watch rusty, rotted, rattle-trap trains roll past, they look like they have been eaten by a whale and reguritated. Covered with graffiti, dirty and forelorn, they look like some third world gadget.
Post #8 Conductor
Joined: 18-February 03
From: South NJ
Member No.: 102
I think the perception that railroad derailments are occurring more frequently now than in the past is more due to the wider knowledge of the incidents than the actual rate. Rail accidents are occurring at the lowest rate in history, with the rate being about 60% lower than 20 years ago. The big change is that today every rail fan with a computer knows about every derailment, big and small, within hours. Many of these are relatively minor and in the pre-internet days would have been a non-event outside the immediate area. But today, if a few cars hit the ground in west Texas, those of us in New Jersey know about it before the wrecking crews are on site.
And, if you want to incite a riot, suggest to the freight railroads that they should lobby for federal aid. The reason that the RR lobby has not obtained direct federal aid for rail maintenance is because they have not asked for it and do not want it. Every dollar of federal aid comes with terms and conditions that the RR’s find unacceptable. The big one is open access. Federal money would almost certainly bring a demand that the railroads, in exchange for accepting general tax funds, open their tracks to every Tom, Dick, and UPS that wants to just run trains. That is the number one fear of the railroads today and they want no part of anything that even remotely could lead to open access. There was a proposal earlier this year in Congress to establish a railroad trust fund similar to the trust funds now used for highways (gas tax) and airports and airways (ticket and fuel taxes). For this fund, a tax would be levied on fuel and freight. The railroads killed it before you could say boo.
The rail system has been sold off to various enterprises which are merrily running them into the ground. Killing the system makes money. Fixing nothing makes money. So what if a train carrying poisonous chemicals derails in the middle of Baltimore, forcing the evacuation of thousands? So what if a toxic load is lost in Texas? Or a train burns? The people simply have to move away until they may return to the mess.
Running slow freight and even slower passenger trains means more money for the guys milking this dying beast. And America stands ALONE of all industrialized nations, ruining their rail system like this! It is too disgusting: during wars and insurrections, people like Lawrence of Arabia, for example, risk their necks to detrail trains and wreck tracks.
Here in America, our executives are the terrorists.
As Beijing scrambles to expand the country's rail systems, Canada's Bombardier emerges as a likely winner.
In a cavernous train factory outside the coastal city of Qingdao, China, a dozen workers clad in navy blue uniforms attach air-conditioning ducts to the roof of a high-speed train car. Nearby, four men weld a roof to the body of a car, the silence pierced by the loud bangs of the welding gun.
The 1,500 employees at Bombardier Sifang Power (Qingdao) Transportation Ltd.--a venture led by Canadian railway powerhouse Bombardier, are on the front lines of the biggest rail boom China has seen. In a five-year plan ending in 2010 the Chinese government is shelling out $161 billion (1.25 trillion yuan) to lay new tracks and acquire equipment to expand the rail system. It is spending an additional $32 billion on rolling stock and locomotives.
Bombardier Transportation, with $6.6 billion in revenues the largest rail equipment company in the world, has had a long business relationship with China. It has inked nearly 40 contracts with the country over the past two decades. It was the first multinational train builder to set up a joint venture in China, in 1996--one of three the company now has there. In two and a half years Bombardier has signed Chinese contracts that will reap it $1.5 billion, with hopes of more to come.
In New York, we used to get our trains from Canada. Then they wanted an American facility building trains. But outside of New York, who else cares? China is building high-speed, high-tech train service from Tibet over to Hong Kong. They want to be able to move millions of tons of supplies and troops swiftly. The USA thinks we don't need a working train system. We will use expensive, gas guzzling trucks to move everything.
But if there is a war, forget about that! Just like we moved all our bases out of America and over to where snipers and bombers can kill us and wreck everything, so it is with our transportation: it is being destroyed because we think we don't need it. But moving stuff from China swiftly to various box stores that are spread out evenly isn't what we need if there were a war. Namely, we would need to concentrate troops and materials, not scatter them! And so our systems break down while Europe and Asia go the opposite direction.
And the irony that our laggard space program that professes to want to go to Mars, of all things, can't assemble the wretched remains of our Shuttle program because it can't shuttle simple materials from point A to depot B!