Brad Messer small headshot Brad Messer Commentary • KTSA • Tuesday, June 29, 2004

Train Wreck Planning

Could you plan something like yesterday's deadly train wreck?

No. I believe you get wrecks like that by NOT planning. In fact, it looks to me like the planning process itself is a train wreck.

Two trains on the same track. One is told to move out of the way so the other can pass. Train One pulls onto a siding— but not completely off the main track. Train Two then plows into the part of Train One that's still sticking out.

Wreck of Old 97 in which Casey Jones died. Click for 18K.

This kind of train wreck has been happening for more than a century! Still the railroads haven't corrected procedures to prevent it!

This is exactly what happened to legendary engineer Casey Jones, in the "Wreck of Old 97" over in Mississippi in 1900. It was his fault that he hit a train that wasn't supposed to be on his track, the railroad said. He "failed to respond properly to flag signals" and got himself killed (and a song written about him).

Yesterday morning they must have been using something better than flags to tell the second train that the first one was still in the way.

Whatever it was, it still certainly wasn't good enough. More needless death, because the railroads are still living in the last century.

Brad Messer, commentary, KTSA.

(San Antonio Express-News -- On May 3, two freight trains collided just south of downtown, injuring three people. Two locomotives and 12 freight cars from one of the trains derailed, with both engines and five cars falling into the San Antonio River. About 5,600 gallons of diesel fuel spilled into the river.)

The Real Casey Jones Story

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