Loose brains derail trains

Posted by Steve Sweeney
on Tuesday, August 15, 2017

News this week that Al Qaeda terrorists are promoting would-be followers to make and employ do-it-yourself concrete derails is — unsurprising. The awesome mass and speed of most trains is enough to do great damage when they derail by accident in lonely locales — let alone on purpose in populated places.

We expect that people who want to do us harm in North American and Europe would do almost anything to achieve their aims. And yet, because so much focus has been on airplanes and passenger airport security, we might have been complacent in thinking that evil people forgot about our railroads and transit systems.

No more.

As railfans and rail professionals, we know how many things must go right to make a train move safely. We also know, wink-and-nudge, that if you wanted something to go wrong, all you'd have to do is [fill in the blank.]

Here is the warning, should you need one: Now that law enforcement's watchful eye is more focused on railroading and on our hobby than ever, we must be more diligent in reporting suspicious behaviors, cooperating with officials investigating reported suspicious behaviors, AND watching our idle chatter.

This last point is double-edged. WE may know about how to start or stop a train — but terrorists may not. If you know something, think twice before you blurt it over the Internet, however legal or common the knowledge or information might be. The second point is more indirect: if you have knowledge of railroading and share that information with the wrong person or the wrong venue, law enforcement may — ahem — ask you a few questions.

And this is nothing new — remember when the Denver police stopped me in March? Just expect police actions to be more common and more visible.  

To put it succinctly: If you see something say something; loose brains derail trains.

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