In my youth in Hopkins County, Texas, which proclaimed itself then the dairy capital of America, cattle were sacred. Ever so often a farmer’s fence would go down and milk cows would placidly chew grass on the Cotton Belt’s right of way, until struck by a passing train. In the inevitable lawsuit, those aging milk providers would be mysteriously transformed into prize breeding cattle that would still be working for the benefit of the children of Texas but for Cotton Belt’s negligence in not stopping its train on a dime. The railroad always settled before trial, knowing that the people of Hopkins County loved cows more than the Cotton Belt.
I rely on my friend Larry in south Florida to send me railroad disaster news from across the globe. And the latest dispatch concerns a cow disaster in eastern England. On Sunday, a fence apparently came down, as all cattle fences occasionally do. Dozens of cows were happily feeding themselves on railroad tracks when a Virgin Trains East Coast passenger train going from Aberdeen to King’s Cross Station in London plowed through the herd, killing 11 and leaving 15 missing (what does that mean, missing?).
What I find interesting is that the locomotive was disabled, requiring that it be towed into London and causing many of those aboard to miss an important football (soccer) game. The story Larry passed on does not say if or how the farmer will be compensated for the loss of his “prime breeding cattle.” But the railroad said “anyone affected by the accident may be entitled to compensation.” Presumably this means people will get refunds for their soccer tickets.
If I’ve got this right, then in England, soccer fans have legal priority over cattle. Even today, don’t try this in Hopkins County.—Fred Frailey