Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Traveling by Train

This is a train of molten sulfur, motionless, but soon to head south towards perhaps a huge paper mill in South Carolina. According to wikipedia: "Principal uses for the acid include ore processing, fertilizer manufacturing, oil refining, wastewater processing, and chemical synthesis."

These a two trains potentially holding hundreds of people are waiting to get somewhere. The one in the foregound is nearly 90 minutes late, heading towards downtown Richmond and eventually Newport News. The other is over two hours late. Why? There is one usable track between the downtown Richmond station, over five miles away, and this spot here. It is winding and has a grade. Despite two passenger trains holding hundreds of people both being scheduled, the heavy train of molten sulfur was allowed to travel up the grade at between 5-15 mph, and then prompty sat (as shown in the previous photo) in the way of everything for at least 30 minutes. All of the decisions were made by CSX corporation, the private freight railroad that owns all of this track. Similar scenarios like this are repeated daily across the entire United States, as the profit interests of such railroads trample any consideration for thousands who dare try to travel by train on crippled Amtrak.

This is the northbound Amtrak train, headed all the way to Boston, already two hours late.


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