I know it’s an easy target but I can stay silent no longer.
As I assume anyone reading this thread knows, over the weekend, a train carrying huge quantities of flammable liquid “spontaneously” began to roll towards the Quebec town of Lac Magentic, gained speed, derailed, and then, disaster. (link to one of many, many reports). It now seems that the engineer (earlier and incorrectly hailed as a hero for towing cars away from the fire; it was not him who towed the cars) failed to set an “adequate” number of handbrakes. But that is not at whom this pit is directed.
No, I am astounded, PISSED and astounded, that a) a train carrying volatile substances can be left unattended for long periods (when any mischievous, or malicious, individual could fuck around with the brakes or anything else on the train) and more importantly b) that any train, let alone one loaded with crude oil or other flammable/toxic substance, could be parked on a downhill grade! The combination of unattended + parked on a downhill grade is the proverbial accident waiting to happen. And, it happened. Fifty people are now dead as a result.
In retrospect, this is EXACTLY the type of thing that could have, and would have been prevented, by applying even basic principles of accident avoidance. It is a no-brainer.
One example from my field (i.e. medicine). In operating rooms, the oxygen outlets and nitrous oxide outlets have different receptacle shapes making it physically impossible to connect oxygen delivery tubing to the nitrous oxide supply and vice versa.
In the same way, it could have been a simple matter to make it “physically impossible” for a train to become a “runaway” - just don’t park it on a downhill grade!! Then, it doesn’t matter if the brakes aren’t set. It’s a perfect example of the type of basic safety principle I allude to above. And, of course, if there’s no uphill or level grade to park it on, then for gawdsakes make sure the the train is not left unattended. Keep an engineer on board. Simple, cheap, and effective principles; neither of them applied.
Sorry, I have no clever closing sentence. Just rage. And astonishment at the ignorance. But mostly rage.