I am currently in Taiwan on a business trip
Today we needed to go from Taipei in the north to Zuoying in the south (about 350 km) for a meeting
I was told that the best way to get there was by train
The first thing that came to mind was traveling to Boston and NY on the train with my grandfather
He had a Rail pass because he worked for the New York, New Haven, and Hartford railroad
The earliest trips I remember were behind a steam locomotive and the later ones were diesel electric.
The first thing that surprised me abut this trip was how comfortable the seats were and then how smooth and quiet the ride was
The next was the message board that kept us informed about the weather, where we were and how fast we were going
Speaking of speed - try 297 kilometers or 184 miles per hour and it took about an hour and a half to go 350 kilometers
In the olden days it used to take us four hours to go about 300 kilometers (200 miles) to NY City on the train
Things have changed!
So long as they slow down for the curves......
Like this one?
I agree Hal....and stay awake for that matter. And too bad our tracks are in such poor shape. On one of my trips out to AZ through the usual bad stretch in Kansas, several people actually got sick from the violent bouncing of the cars. We all thought we were gonna derail. I sent a complaint to the railroad commission. Supposedly they inspected the tracks and fined the railroad for sloppy maintenance and tracks "out of spec". Haven't been on that run since, so don't know if it's better or not.
Hal's comment might point to the recent accident in New York where the engineer may have dozed off for a moment according to some news headlines.. Don't they have "dead man's switch" on the controls where the train is supposed to slow down and stop if the engineer looses his grip?
When I lived in Germany I often took the ICE (intercity express) trains from point to point, those are the sleek white ones that go really fast in the 150-200 km/hr range. But there is a new one that is called the D Schnellzug that runs from Frankfurt to Koeln and I was stunned that the train reached a max speed of 409 Km/hr. It was so fast it was scary~
I miss those trains, I could go anywhere at anytime by a series of on-time sequential connections. If the sign said a train was coming at 7:02, then it sure as hell arrived at 7:02 and departed in minutes, always right on time!
My son is a freight train conductor for Union Pacific. The "dead man" or Alerter switch has to be activated every 15-20 seconds or the brakes are applied but changes in any control, throttle, horn or brakes will also reset the timer. John
Reminds me of the Simpsons episode where Homer Simpson used one of those bobbing birds to mind the "dead man" switch at the Springfield nuclear plant for him while he was away....
Question to Fred. How did you know what the announcements were? Did they speak English?
Concerning the train derailment in New York. They should have some kind of device before the curve which senses whether the brakes have been applied and if not it would automatically apply them and sound an alarm to alert the driver.
I'm surprised, with today's technology and emphasis on safety, locomotives are not equipped with automatic speed controls, that automatically kick in if it senses the locomotive is going too fast...say three times the speed allowed for that curve in NY, sort of like an auto pilot that airliners have to compensate for the human factor that is almost always responsible for derailments caused by the texting, drug use, sleeping, or other distractions. Jim Patrick
It's called PTC (positive train control) Congress has mandated it's installation on all major US railroad by 2015.
Jim - I should stay out of this discussion because I will admit that I am a rather prejudiced retired railroader,........however......
You would not be surprised if you considered that not everything is gov't subsidized quite as readily as most forms of transportation other than railroads! Floyd Voie has explained that PTC (Positive Train Control) is in the works as we speak. Also Jim, the big factor is the cost of developing and installing PTC on this nations railroads.
Let me put it this way,.......imagine Congress mandating installation of a system on all U.S.A. Interstate Highways whereby all vehicles on all those highways would be equipped with equipment that would sense a system built into the highway that would keep all vehicles operating in a safe manner and that would keep them all separated and eliminate any chance of accident or collisions. And this system to be installed and up and running by a certain date within just a couple years or so. Can you imagine the cost involved? The cost of developing, installing and implementing PTC, or, Positive Train Control, is just this sort of gigantic problem. And I'm not sure that it has yet been decided who's gonna' pay for all this. Railroads are NOT government owned and operated in the USA as they are in several much, much smaller countries you know. Railroads are still privatized in the USA and they certainly cannot afford to pay for PTC,....in fact,.....neither can our government that as you know is in dept to the tune of some 17 trillion!
Well anyway, I knew I shoulda' stayed out of this, but what we're talking about is one of those things that with all our modern technology as you say Jim, makes it seem like it should be no big deal, but some things that at a glance seem simple, are just not really all that simple. FWIW,....harold
Jim & Norman - Okay, one more thing while I'm still on my "soapbox":
After 34 years as a Special Agent on two different Class 1 railroads, I can tell you that I could not begin to count the number of serious derailments that resulted in causes that had absolutely NOTHING to do with any form of human error like "the texting, drug use, sleeping or other distractions" that you mentioned Jim! Like it or not, there are such things as weather, metal fatigue, electric and electronic failures, geological conditions, and just plain "sh*t happens" factors that will ALWAYS be a factor!
Oh Hell, implement it anyway. We can lie and say it won't cost the taxpayer anything and once it is implemented, it is the law of the land. We'll all be dependent on it and it can never be done away with. We'll find the money for it somewhere. We always do.
Perhaps the Chinese will loan it to us.
Last time I was in Taiwan, in 71, they were still using steam locomotives. KGB
Norm, I am sure that Fred will answer your question, but from his past posts, I have noticed that he makes frequent business trips to China. It would not surprise me to find out that he understands quite a bit of Chinese.
Well, I can attest to one way the Coast Guard is addressing any kind of sleepiness/drowsiness issues... they took my license away because I have Sleep Apnea and couldn't respond appropriately enough to the so-called "treatment" with that friggin machine. Actually became sleep deprived. So out went the machine, and my license! Guess they were afraid I'd fall asleep at the wheel even though I always had a senior deckhand in the pilothouse with me, plus I was always in training mode with him/her so couldn't fall asleep if I tried. These were daytime island hopping excursions. Ran this 21 years, 18 of 'em with the diagnosis, but all of a sudden became a huge issue. Thats the way it goes.
Dave - Exactly like that - both ends are the same so they don't have to turn it around when they go the other way. They just turn the seats.
Norm - The message board and announcements are in Chinese and English. The Taiwanese are US friendly and many speak some English.
The politics between Main-land China and Taiwan is strange.
China doesn't recognize Taiwan as a separate country so they do not allow Taiwan to stamp Chinese passports. On the other hand Taiwan requires all "foreigners to have the correct papers (passport)
Thus for a citizen of China to visit Taiwan they first need to get a letter from the Chinese government saying that they can leave and Taiwan stamps that instead of the passport.
It is good for only one trip and usually takes 2-3 weeks to get.
The strange part is that although the Chinese Government knows that the person is going to Taiwan or returning from Taiwan, they do not acknowledge that their citizen went there - even though there are numerous direct flights and they provide the letter.
In the past a Chinese person had to go thru Japan or Hong Kong to go to Taiwan.
It is easier for a US citizen to go to Taiwan, than a Chinese citizen.
As for my speaking Chinese - My vocabulary is limited to egg rolls, noodles, Starbucks Grande Coffee, and "When does my flight leave?"
How about we make it illegal for anyone to be careless, stupid or disingenuous?
Wait, that would make most of the workers in Washington, DC into criminals.......
But you know the newspapers would get the story straight for those of us who are not there!
Fred, What, no "Where is the Bathroom?" I thought that was the first phrase to learn for any country!
In the airport or train depot, you follow the signs...after that
The first thing you learn to say in Chinese is "Boo Lah" which means very little fire level spice, but they don't believe you could possibly mean bland so they dial it down just a bit to just above hot Mexican level...so your safest bet is to try "Boo Boo Lah" three times in rapid succession if you even want to taste the flavor of the meat when it arrives.
The 2nd thing you learn to say in Chinese is "new row zai nah li" which means "Where is the beef!" since they apparently missed the concept that beef is really edible or even worth having on the menu...
The 3rd thing you learn to say in Chinese is "shu swa zai nah li?" which is "where is the toilet"...
The 4th thing you learn to say if you expected a sit down is "zee sheh...shu swa zai nah li" which always makes them laugh because it means a rest room with a western style toilet and not the porcelain slit trench kind!
The signs have drawings of people.
The one that looks like they are wearing a skirt is for ladies and the one that looks like pants is for men.
I am always relieved when I see urinals because it tells me I am in the right place
The "slit trench" is a challenge
Sometimes there is a sign over the western style toilet showing a guy sitting on it and a guy standing on it with an X thru the standing one
I'll try to get a picture when I am on my puter instead of iPad
When my dad went to Germany in in 56 while in the army, Where's the bathroom was NOT the first thing he said he wanted to learn.
Wheres the Beer and wheres the women at? I cleaned it up a bit
When I was in college I was scribling on paper a idea to put metal flakes in the paint lines on the road so sensors on the cars bumpers would detect it.When crossing a line a light or alarm would go off.
Wouldn't of cost a lot as they already put glass flakes in the paint and there is plenty of metal to grind up for it
could save a lot of lives.
I cant see a radar detector and a automatic decelerator on the train being that expensive that human lives are cheaper.