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Old 16th November 2012, 05:03 AM   #1
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Deadly accident involving freight train and float with wounded vets and families

http://www.armytimes.com/news/2012/1...probed-111612/

Quote:
MIDLAND, Texas — Federal officials are heading to West Texas to join investigators looking into why a freight train slammed into a parade float carrying wounded veterans, killing four people and injuring 17 others.

Witnesses described a harrowing scene Thursday afternoon as the Union Pacific locomotive bore down on the decorated flatbed truck as it tried to clear the rail crossing on its way to an honorary banquet.

The train was sounding its horn and people on the flatbed truck — mostly wounded veterans and their spouses — were scrambling to jump off before the collision around 4:40 p.m. in Midland, according to witnesses and Union Pacific spokesman Tom Lange.

A preliminary investigation indicates the crossing gate and lights were working, Lange said, though he didn’t know if the train crew saw the float approaching.

<SNIP>
Wow.
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Old 16th November 2012, 05:31 AM   #2
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Even if the train crew "saw the float approaching" they wouldn't have been able to stop in time, most likely. I saw a train that had hit an RV trailer that hadn't been able to stop for another 2 miles. There was a toilet sticking out of the front of the train and the aluminum sides of the trailer were completely wrapped around the front like a wet blanket. The truck was still back at the crossing.
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Old 16th November 2012, 05:36 AM   #3
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Once you put the train into emergency, nothing more you can do except sound the horn.

I feel very bad for the crew. This sort of thing is NEVER the crew's fault.

Now, those of you in communities which have passed laws preventing trains from sounding horns; What the **** are you thinking?
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Old 16th November 2012, 05:55 AM   #4
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If you can't clear the crossing, don't enter it.

IMHO the driver of the truck should be charged with reckless homicide.

But he probably feels bad, and is unlikely to do it again so what's the point?
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Old 16th November 2012, 06:55 AM   #5
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From ABC, "'Sirens from the police cars in the parade may have drowned out the sound of the approaching train,' Vatankhah said." and "Patricia Howle was sitting traffic with her daughter watching the parade go by when she heard the train honking its horn." and "A Union Pacific spokesman Tom Lange said it appeared safety devices at the crash site were working. But there were conflicting reports by eyewitnesses about whether the gates went down at the crossing when the train approached."
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Old 16th November 2012, 07:01 AM   #6
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Originally Posted by halides1 View Post
From ABC, "'Sirens from the police cars in the parade may have drowned out the sound of the approaching train,' Vatankhah said." and "Patricia Howle was sitting traffic with her daughter watching the parade go by when she heard the train honking its horn." and "A Union Pacific spokesman Tom Lange said it appeared safety devices at the crash site were working. But there were conflicting reports by eyewitnesses about whether the gates went down at the crossing when the train approached."
The gates were almost undoubtedly down. People tend to have little recollection of time sequences when terror strikes.

Union Pacific's locomotive fleet (except some yard goats) all have video event recorders triggered by horn and brake application. The NTSB will be able to sort this out.
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Old 16th November 2012, 07:07 AM   #7
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fallible memories

In general I agree about the unreliability of eyewitnesses, and I agree about the NTSB. However, one witness remembers it thusly: "'I saw the truck crossing the tracks. About halfway across the gates started coming down. The truck tried to blow his horn to get the other people in front of him out of the way. The gates actually hit the first people on the trailer,' witness Michael Briggs said." The problem may have been that the traffic ahead of the truck kept him from moving, and the gates came down after.
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Old 16th November 2012, 07:19 AM   #8
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Originally Posted by halides1 View Post
In general I agree about the unreliability of eyewitnesses, and I agree about the NTSB. However, one witness remembers it thusly: "'I saw the truck crossing the tracks. About halfway across the gates started coming down. The truck tried to blow his horn to get the other people in front of him out of the way. The gates actually hit the first people on the trailer,' witness Michael Briggs said." The problem may have been that the traffic ahead of the truck kept him from moving, and the gates came down after.
So he entered the crossing even though he didn't have room to clear it because traffic was stopped ahead of him.

That driver should be charged with the deaths of his pasengers.
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Old 16th November 2012, 07:23 AM   #9
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Originally Posted by WildCat View Post
So he entered the crossing even though he didn't have room to clear it because traffic was stopped ahead of him.

That driver should be charged with the deaths of his pasengers.
Remember that school bus up in Fox Lake, WC?
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Old 16th November 2012, 07:26 AM   #10
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https://www.uprr.com/newsinfo/releas...0128_tir.shtml
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Old 16th November 2012, 07:27 AM   #11
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Fox Lake

Originally Posted by BenBurch View Post
Remember that school bus up in Fox Lake, WC?
I am not familiar with this incident. BTW, I am not saying that Mr. Briggs is necessarily correct, and I also would point out that the noise from the parade itself might be worth considering.
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Old 16th November 2012, 07:30 AM   #12
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Originally Posted by BenBurch View Post
Remember that school bus up in Fox Lake, WC?
Yep, but in that instance the lights and gates weren't working properly and it was a confusing intersection.
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Old 16th November 2012, 07:32 AM   #13
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Originally Posted by halides1 View Post
I am not familiar with this incident. BTW, I am not saying that Mr. Briggs is necessarily correct, and I also would point out that the noise from the parade itself might be worth considering.
It really shouldn't matter, you don't enter a RR crossing if you can't clear it.
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Old 16th November 2012, 07:41 AM   #14
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Originally Posted by WildCat View Post
It really shouldn't matter, you don't enter a RR crossing if you can't clear it.
Pretty much this. If he could see that there wasn't enough room to get his vehicle all the way across the tracks, then he should have waited until there was room to do so before beginning to cross the tracks.

This was obviously a local parade, the organizers surely knew it was crossing an active rail line. There's no reason there couldn't have been a cop there clearing the parade vehicles to cross the tracks one by one. However, even if they'd never thought of such a provision there's ultimately no excuse for the driver; that was simply negligent.
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Old 16th November 2012, 09:25 AM   #15
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I don't envy the investigators who are going to have to look at that camera footage.
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Old 16th November 2012, 09:29 AM   #16
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Originally Posted by WildCat View Post
Yep, but in that instance the lights and gates weren't working properly and it was a confusing intersection.
Yes, but the bus was blocked in by traffic partway across. That is the similarity.
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Old 16th November 2012, 09:31 AM   #17
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Originally Posted by Psi Baba View Post
I don't envy the investigators who are going to have to look at that camera footage.
They will likely not see the actual point of impact as the camera is in the cab and the nose gets in the way, but it will be horrific anyway.
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Old 20th November 2012, 04:46 PM   #18
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OK, I confirmed today that this crossing was within a five-mile-wide quiet zone in which trains are prohibited from sounding their horns for crossings.

This ordinance murdered those people.

Had this train been blowing for every crossing from miles away, nobody would have been surprised by a train, and the float would likely not have been on that crossing.
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Old 20th November 2012, 05:00 PM   #19
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Originally Posted by BenBurch View Post
OK, I confirmed today that this crossing was within a five-mile-wide quiet zone in which trains are prohibited from sounding their horns for crossings.

This ordinance murdered those people.

Had this train been blowing for every crossing from miles away, nobody would have been surprised by a train, and the float would likely not have been on that crossing.
Maybe, but the NTSB has confirmed that the truck entered the crossing several seconds after the lights and bells went on, and the gate came down on the trailer. That driver should be charged with something!
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Old 20th November 2012, 05:40 PM   #20
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DUI at the very least.
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Old 20th November 2012, 05:53 PM   #21
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Originally Posted by BenBurch View Post
OK, I confirmed today that this crossing was within a five-mile-wide quiet zone in which trains are prohibited from sounding their horns for crossings.

This ordinance murdered those people.

Had this train been blowing for every crossing from miles away, nobody would have been surprised by a train, and the float would likely not have been on that crossing.
Agreed.
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Old 20th November 2012, 05:53 PM   #22
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Originally Posted by WildCat View Post
So he entered the crossing even though he didn't have room to clear it because traffic was stopped ahead of him.

That driver should be charged with the deaths of his pasengers.
For once in a rare Moon, I agree with WC.
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Old 20th November 2012, 05:55 PM   #23
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Originally Posted by BenBurch View Post
OK, I confirmed today that this crossing was within a five-mile-wide quiet zone in which trains are prohibited from sounding their horns for crossings.

This ordinance murdered those people.

Had this train been blowing for every crossing from miles away, nobody would have been surprised by a train, and the float would likely not have been on that crossing.
Had the driver paid attention to the lights they would definitely not have been hit.

Plus, who stops ON the tracks ever? He should've stopped on the other side when he saw he couldn't clear the tracks.
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Old 20th November 2012, 05:57 PM   #24
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Originally Posted by BenBurch View Post
OK, I confirmed today that this crossing was within a five-mile-wide quiet zone in which trains are prohibited from sounding their horns for crossings.

This ordinance murdered those people.

Had this train been blowing for every crossing from miles away, nobody would have been surprised by a train, and the float would likely not have been on that crossing.
I fail to see how the whistle would have mattered. The driver stopped on the tracks. That's simply 100% avoidable with the rare exceptions of an intersection where there isn't room to pull up to the light in a long vehicle and not be on the track.
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Old 20th November 2012, 06:12 PM   #25
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Originally Posted by I Ratant View Post
DUI at the very least.
Evidence? Other than the fact this was in a "red State" where everybody is always drinking behind the *********** wheel, according to the Liberal idiots??
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Old 20th November 2012, 06:19 PM   #26
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Originally Posted by WildCat View Post
Maybe, but the NTSB has confirmed that the truck entered the crossing several seconds after the lights and bells went on, and the gate came down on the trailer. That driver should be charged with something!
Originally Posted by DreamingNaiad View Post
Had the driver paid attention to the lights they would definitely not have been hit.

Plus, who stops ON the tracks ever? He should've stopped on the other side when he saw he couldn't clear the tracks.
Originally Posted by Skeptic Ginger View Post
I fail to see how the whistle would have mattered. The driver stopped on the tracks. That's simply 100% avoidable with the rare exceptions of an intersection where there isn't room to pull up to the light in a long vehicle and not be on the track.
True, but there were police in the immediate vicinity directing traffic, and had they heard the train miles off, they would almost certainly not have allowed the parade to proceed across.
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Old 20th November 2012, 06:56 PM   #27
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Originally Posted by Skeptic Ginger View Post
I fail to see how the whistle would have mattered. The driver stopped on the tracks. That's simply 100% avoidable with the rare exceptions of an intersection where there isn't room to pull up to the light in a long vehicle and not be on the track.
The guy in front of him stopped and was blocking him.

So that makes two drivers who should be prosecuted.

I think a consensus is emerging on JREF: Americans continue to make stupid mistakes because the punishments for doing so are not harsh enough.
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Old 20th November 2012, 09:21 PM   #28
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Originally Posted by rwguinn View Post
Evidence? Other than the fact this was in a "red State" where everybody is always drinking behind the *********** wheel, according to the Liberal idiots??
.
My other choice was a woman driver. I've mentioned observing LOTS of these stopping just after the tracks here... At least, with the driver's compartment off the tracks. The back end of the vehicle is still across at least one rail.
Possibly they expect any train to swerve around them?
I keep a video camera close at hand when I see this, to record what happens if the lights go flashing, the warning bells go off, and the gate comes down, as I've mentioned previously.
.
The crossing gate in this instance did come down ON the float.
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Old 20th November 2012, 09:23 PM   #29
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Originally Posted by Charlie Wilkes View Post
The guy in front of him stopped and was blocking him.

So that makes two drivers who should be prosecuted.

I think a consensus is emerging on JREF: Americans continue to make stupid mistakes because the punishments for doing so are not harsh enough.
.
In the situation I described as being ready to video, I fully expect a vehicle in front of the car on the tracks when the lights and bells go off to NOT move, because they'd have to run a red light.
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Old 21st November 2012, 03:50 AM   #30
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Originally Posted by BenBurch View Post
True, but there were police in the immediate vicinity directing traffic, and had they heard the train miles off, they would almost certainly not have allowed the parade to proceed across.
He ignored flashing lights and warning bells. Yeah a whistle might have stopped this. So would common sense, or him using his brain.

He saw all of the warnings and still decided to drive onto the tracks. Some noise ordinance isn't at fault.
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Old 21st November 2012, 05:25 AM   #31
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Originally Posted by rwguinn View Post
Evidence? Other than the fact this was in a "red State" where everybody is always drinking behind the *********** wheel, according to the Liberal idiots??
Evidence?
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Old 21st November 2012, 08:08 AM   #32
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Evidence of "liberal idiots"?
The local very conservative rag, AV Press ran a letter from an outraged Romney supporter noting that conservatives were "Christian", while liberals were "christian?".
Redneck land out here.
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Old 21st November 2012, 10:16 AM   #33
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Originally Posted by Charlie Wilkes View Post
The guy in front of him stopped and was blocking him.

So that makes two drivers who should be prosecuted.....
No, you don't enter the intersection or start across train tracks unless there is room to get clear.
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Old 21st November 2012, 10:38 AM   #34
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The following idea is not yet practical and merely a fantasy of mine,

Every five years or so people would have to come to the DMV and take a test to make sure they still have the skills and abilities to safely drive on public roads. Rather than have them drive around town with an inspector in the passenger seat, all drivers would be placed in a simulator - one of those good ones with screens on the sides and back as well as in front. The first situation would involve driving on a divided highway. If someone slows down to look at an accident on the other side, then the person fails. If someone stops on railroad tracks, the person fails. If someone tries to beat a crossing signal, the person fails. If someones drive 40 mph through a school zone, the person fails.


ETA: Also, let the people take their cell phones into the testing area - then call or text them.
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Old 21st November 2012, 11:07 AM   #35
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Originally Posted by Ladewig View Post
The following idea is not yet practical and merely a fantasy of mine,

Every five years or so people would have to come to the DMV and take a test to make sure they still have the skills and abilities to safely drive on public roads. Rather than have them drive around town with an inspector in the passenger seat, all drivers would be placed in a simulator - one of those good ones with screens on the sides and back as well as in front. The first situation would involve driving on a divided highway. If someone slows down to look at an accident on the other side, then the person fails. If someone stops on railroad tracks, the person fails. If someone tries to beat a crossing signal, the person fails. If someones drive 40 mph through a school zone, the person fails.


ETA: Also, let the people take their cell phones into the testing area - then call or text them.
I like it.

I'd add tailgating, failing to use turn signals (they aren't just there for festiveness!), as well as slowing down while trying to merge into Interstate traffic (going 35mph does NOT make it easier to enter 70mph traffic!).
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Old 21st November 2012, 11:50 AM   #36
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Originally Posted by Charlie Wilkes View Post
The guy in front of him stopped and was blocking him.

So that makes two drivers who should be prosecuted.

I think a consensus is emerging on JREF: Americans continue to make stupid mistakes because the punishments for doing so are not harsh enough.
The guy in front did not commit a crime. The guy who stopped on the tracks did. Yes, it is illegal to stop inside of a rail crossing in Texas (as well as most if not all other States in the US). The reason being of course the massive danger of being hit by a train. This information is readily available. It sometimes appears on the written exam for a driver's license, and can result in automatic failure in the driving portion if ignored. This is pointed out in the DMV manual, which is also required reading for a driver's license. The reasons are very clear and very often grilled. Even though anti-texting, motorcycle safety, and DUI warnings are the most regularly displayed reminders seen on Texas roadways I still occassionaly see railway safety warnings. Not surprisingly, I saw a few more than normal recently. I find it quite reasonable that a Texas driver should never stop on a railway crossing, and be held criminally responsible when they do in direct contradiction to the law especially when endagnering the lives of many others.

I do not think a custodial sentence would be a good service here either, but definitely loss of license and the usual non-imprisonment consequences a criminal violation comes with. Does the driver likely feel guilty and remorseful? I would expect so. Is that enough? I do not feel so.
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Old 21st November 2012, 12:16 PM   #37
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Originally Posted by Skeptic Ginger View Post
No, you don't enter the intersection or start across train tracks unless there is room to get clear.
And if you still find yourself in that situation, and the gates comes down, step on it, blocking traffic be damned.

Last edited by scratchy; 21st November 2012 at 12:18 PM.
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Old 21st November 2012, 01:01 PM   #38
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Originally Posted by Croydon Bob View Post
Evidence?
Originally Posted by I Ratant View Post
Evidence of "liberal idiots"?
The local very conservative rag, AV Press ran a letter from an outraged Romney supporter noting that conservatives were "Christian", while liberals were "christian?".
Redneck land out here.
A thread in the politics section made hinted at a dubious correlation/causation involving red states being less safe to drive in. The metric might have been the wrong one and some of the postulated causes were less than plausible especially next to more sound reasons.
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Old 21st November 2012, 01:31 PM   #39
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Originally Posted by Skeptic Ginger View Post
No, you don't enter the intersection or start across train tracks unless there is room to get clear.

It really is just this simple.

Lights, horns, whistles, cops, gates, none of that is relevant. They only exist to attempt to dissuade the people who are so brain-dead that they ignore this simple rule.

A while back I noticed that rows of plastic uprights were being installed between lanes for about 40 ft. either side of all the two lane RR xings around here. This was because, in spite of gates, horns, bells, and whistles, people were still trying to get across the tracks ... by going into the other lane after oncoming traffic had stopped for the warning systems.

You can't cure stupid.

Last edited by quadraginta; 21st November 2012 at 01:32 PM.
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Old 21st November 2012, 03:55 PM   #40
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The train spreads stupid along the tracks for a 1/4 mile, most of the time.
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