All U.S. locomotives to be equipped with inflatable slides

Posted by Fred Frailey
on Wednesday, August 11, 2010

JetBlue flight attendant Steven Slater certainly wove himself into the affections of many Americans with his mad-as-hell-and-ain’t-takin’-it bit to a planeload of passengers, whereupon he grabbed a beer or two, opened the plane’s hatch on a Kennedy International Airport taxiway, and slid down the inflatable chute to the tarmac and home. He had been involved in an altercation with a rude passenger. Imagine that, a rude airline passenger.
 
Something of the same sort happens on American railroads with more regularity than you might think. I am indebted to TRAINS subscriber and retired Southern Pacific (and Union Pacific and Katy and Great Northern and Alaska Railroad) train dispatcher William Neill for this wire, dated April 1, 1985, from the SP chief dispatcher’s office in Roseville, Calif., to various officials:

 
AT APPROXIMATELY 5:15 PM DATE, 21RVTRK 01 X4315W CONDR C.D. KEARSEY, ENGR C.H. CLARK ON DUTY ROSEVILLE 12:30 PM, DEPARTED 2:15 PM WITH 63/23/7550, STOPPED AT LODI AND SET OUT 6 CARS, PICKED UP 12 CARS AND UNIT 3883 FOR TRACY. TRAIN STOPPED ON MAIN LINE LODI FOULING WEST SWITCH BY APPROXIMATELY 3 CARS AND ENGR CLARK ADVISED CONDR KEARSEY THAT HE WAS HAVING PROBLEMS WITH THE UNITS. APPROXIMATELY 35 MINS LATER MR. CLARK ADVISED THAT HE WAS UNABLE TO RESTART THE UNITS AND THAT HE WAS RETIRING FROM THE SOUTHERN PACIFIC TRANS. CO.
MR. CLARK LEFT TRAIN ON MAIN TRACK, GOT OFF UNITS AND WALKED HOME.
RHSE FRMN AND RELIEF ENGR CALLED AS SOON AS POSSIBLE FROM TRACY. RHSE FRMN ADVISED THAT UNITS STARTED WITHOUT ANY PROBLEMS.
FOLLOWING TRAINS DELAYED
01 AVBAT 28 STOCKTON 1’00’
21 RVTRK 01 LODI 3’30’
01 OGFRL 31 LODI 1’30’
H. JAY 1020 PM 4/1
 
Yes, I also noticed the date of this note, but Bill swears it is not BS. He adds: “I remember two occasions when train dispatchers quit in the middle of a shift and walked out. That led to chaotic events.” He adds, “Most field retirements occurred while the engineer’s trains were being held out of terminals with the knowledge by one and all that there were lots of vacant tracks in the yards.”
 
These are reminders that you can push people too far through lack of courtesy or plain incompetent supervision. I find it hard to imagine that you could empanel a jury in New York City that would convict Steven Slater of anything more serious than a brief lapse of judgment. — Fred W. Frailey

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