The early reports of the explosions today were of ‘power surges’ causing problems on the trains. Obviously, the reality of the situation quickly took over. But I’ve been wondering where this ‘power surge’ story came from, because it was a strange thing to be so widely reported, and have started to suspect that it was a ‘codeword’, used among transport staff to enable them to evacuate the system without causing panic or alarm. Anybody got an idea if this was the case?
An exploding train would easily cause the third rail to short out, causing a power surge and tripping circuits. If you’re sitting in a control tower monitoring the train traffic, all you would see is a big power spike and a bunch of rail and signal segments go dark. Immediate conclusion: power surge. It would take some further investigation to find out that the surge was caused by bombs.
We had an underground transformer blow up across from where I worked. Nothing foul play about it, but plenty of smoke and flame, along with an entire city block losing power.
“Power surge” would be a completely plausible first guess.
Sure, there’s going to be surges caused by the explosion - but to extrapolate from that to the surges causing explosions? When I first saw it at 9am it didn’t make sense, and obviously it quickly made more/less sense.
‘Power surge’ as a first guess, I can accept that. But for all the major news outlets to be reporting it, it must have been more than a couple of signalmen that came to that conclusion.
The people in the control tower, who would be the ones who called in the emergency and alerted the media to the service outage, did not necessarily have any knowledge of an explosion occuring at all. It could have occured miles away. The only information they have to go on is what their signal relays say. Thus, all they knew at the start was some circuits had failed, and they’d better call it in to get the word out.
When it first happened, before any details were known, reporters called Metronet to find out what was going on, and at that time all they could report was that there were power surges and stoppages – they didn’t have anyone at the scene of the blasts yet, and were relying on information from the control center.
Reports from within an hour of the blasts make it clear that even people who were on the trains didn’t know that they’d been attacked. One witness said “Everything went black and then we collided with another train or something.”
Well, there’s no “explosion” indicators at the control center. And power surges do cause explosions in transformers and other high-voltage equipment. So if you know that there’s been a massive power surge, and then reports come in that that people heard a big bang, it makes perfect sense to assume that it was electrics going up the way they do. You don’t assume it’s terrorism, because sometimes a power surge is just a power surge.
OK, thanks. I guess my mind is working overtime. Although I’d be surprised if their isn’t a codeword system of some kind for evacuations of this type.
Thankyou GorillaMan! I was about to type exactly the same question when I saw yours. Great minds think alike I guess (or something like that).