They’re getting closer

The latest train derailment is only an hour away from me.

A train carrying ethanol derailed and sparked a fire in Raymond, Minn., authorities said Thursday, urging nearby residents to evacuate.


  1. birgerjohansson says

    Chief Wiggum and his men will be standing downwind inhaling the ambience, while Monty Burns and Smithers are shredding the documents about rail maintenance.

  2. wzrd1 says

    Oh, just dump some bleach on it to extinguish it. Make tons of friends in a flash!

    More seriously, 30 – 40 years ago, they were averaging around 10k derailments per year, we were down to around 1100 per year. Most, being simple derailments, with no spills. Given the recent rash of derailments with fires and spills, one ponders what regulations got loosened or enforcement became lax around.
    Of course, Libertarians will inform us that the rational thing is for railroads to be meticulous in their maintenance, as with this, they’re looking at at least a half mile or more of track that was obliterated and now must be replaced. History tells us, the railroad will do what corporations have always done, go for short term gains, take the big losses and hope for the best until the golden parachute arrives for the executives, then it’s someone else’s problem.
    Hence, why we regulate. Not that they listen, they’re locked inside of their echo chambers in their ivory towers, ignoring the carbon building up from the fires they caused. Worse, they jumped from fringe to mainstream by hijacking the GOP, in a synergistic mixture of parasitism upon a nation.
    Maybe extinguish it with some ammonium nitrate and finish the job that they all started.

  3. birgerjohansson says

    Red sky?
    The red sun from the inevitable forest fires of the coming summer will be presented as a benefit because something something Tucker Carlson.

  4. muttpupdad says

    It will be from the cooling effect of all the healthy smoke that is in the air like it was during last summers fires.

  5. Robbo says


    i’ve been listening to City of Rails podcast. apparently 1/3 of the rail workforce has been laid off the last couple years. remaining workers have to work harder. conditions are poor: management likes to fire people, long shifts, no sick time. now the rail companies use longer trains, less frequently. longer trains have problems with the old braking systems. newer ones are available, but cost $.

    so, typical corporate greed. profits are at record levels, which is why railroads can offer $35k signing bonuses.

  6. says

    It’s funny how the capitalists say deregulation will allow them to spend revenues on infrastructure, but they spend it on bonuses instead. It’s like the capitalists are lying and their congressional lapdogs are pretending to believe them.

  7. robro says

    wzrd1 @ #4 — I don’t know the specifics but on the Ohio derailment, news reports brought up changes in regulations about length of train, required maintenance schedules, and crew sizes that passed during the first part of Chump’s admin when the GOP ran the whole show. I also recall seeing things about cuts in enforcement funding a la the IRS. Of course, part of the “rash of derailments” could be coincidence and reporters looking for follow up and tie in stories.

  8. Larry says

    The removal of rail safety regulations is one more example of a Trump action spreading its love across the people. Making America Gasp (for air) Again!

  9. Dennis K says

    These things are becoming quite the metaphor for society in general these days. Shame they’re real.

  10. kome says

    Yes, safety regulations were weakened if not outright removed during the Trump administration, but Biden and his administration have had quite a long time now to put them back in place and have simply chosen not to. Hell, for a couple years the Dems had (albeit by a slim margin) single party control of Congress, too. Instead, Biden and the rest of the Democratic party leadership interfered with the rail workers’ union strike, which forced them to take a shit deal that did not address any of their main concerns, many of which were safety concerns.

  11. wzrd1 says

    The singular joy of deregulation is the dysregulation that it brings.
    Still, who wants that safety, when they can instead have incinerated babies in their cribs?
    Well, that and bringing the joys of Love Canal to the entire nation.

  12. René says

    @18, Raging Bee: “Act of God”. q.v.
    Sorry, I forgot the a href syntax, I would have the q.v. linked to the corresponding wikipedia page.

  13. ardipithecus says

    @17 wzrd1

    To extend thoughts and prayers to victims of tragedy, one must have victims of tragedy.

  14. drken says

    Luckily, ethanol is less toxic than other things that have been spilled by derailments. But, now the whole neighborhood will smell like a chem lab for weeks.

  15. Trickster Goddess says

    In 2019, trains in the US traveled 777 million train-kilometers and experienced 1,338 derailments.

    The same year trains in the EU traveled 4.5 billion train-kilometers and experienced 73 derailments.

    Japan: 2 billion train-kilometers and 9 derailments.

  16. wzrd1 says

    That’s true of most derailments in general, most will be at low speed and result in minimal damage. But, when a major malfunction occurs at speed, that’s a lot of mass at a fair speed, meaning one hell of a lot of destructive energy being unleashed.
    That still wouldn’t be significant if it was rare, but allow maintenance to slip, due to political leadership being bribed with campaign contributions, well, wheels literally fly off.
    I just saw a youtube video of one train truck assembly where the entire axle had eroded away in minutes after initial detection and what was left was nowhere near its bearing any longer – the entire end of the shaft was worn away. High weight of cars means an unforgiving environment, so maintenance has to be frequent, meticulous and detailed, with frequent inspections. Let it slip, have major accidents.

    Trickster Goddess @23, that’s only partial numbers, as weight moved is needed for a proper comparison. I suspect, given the larger population of the EU, that it’s a fair bit higher than the US, making the full numbers doubly damning. Length of consist is also important, as the longer the consist, the harder it is to stop. I’ve personally saw trains that were moving at speed that took a half hour and more to pass.
    Ours can get quite immense, more than double what France allows, as an example.
    If a derailment on a 12000 foot long train occurs, that’s a hell of a lot of mass to suddenly be tearing up railbed! As the railbed gets torn up, the rails begin to come up and start shredding cars.

  17. StevoR says

    Running off the rails and train crash seems a pretty apt metaphor for a lot of US culture and politics ’bout now..

  18. wzrd1 says

    Yeah, but we’ve improved upon one thing here. We’ve improved on dumpster fires by having derailed train car fires.