Monday, February 22, 2010

Commuters Gassed!

Port Townsend, today. You know, the life of a commuter is tedious at best. Women being groped on trains, malfunctioning ticket machines, “guards” standing around watching as a girl is beaten, equipment failures, rude employees, operators texting while running into other trains, falling in front of a train, and now this: Commuters gassed in a tunnel:

Giant diesel belch causes heavy smoke for Sounder commuter train
SEATTLE - February 18, 2010. It was a massive exhaust plume from three freight locomotives that filled up the inside the mile-long railroad tunnel running under downtown Seattle on Tuesday morning.

The amount of smoke even triggered a response by railroad and Seattle Fire Dept investigators.

Gus Melonas, the spokesman for the Burlington Northern Santa Fe railroad told KING 5 News this afternoon that the smoke was diesel exhaust from a lash up of three freight locomotives that had stopped inside the tunnel then started up again. He says normally the air from Puget Sound pushes any residual smoke out of the mile-long tunnel that begins just north of King Street Station on the south and ends near the Seattle waterfront. He says it's not known why the locomotives that were not pulling any railroad cars had stopped inside.

While smoke inside the tunnel is normal from passing trains, this plume got everybody's attention Tuesday morning as the last Sounder commuter train arriving from Everett slowed to a virtual stop because for a brief period the engineer complained he couldn't see ahead of the train. Passengers complained of heavy amounts of smoke that came inside.

Sound Transit, which operates the Sounder commuter trains says that the crew should have made an announcement to passengers about the heavy smoke, and that the transit agency will make that a policy in the future.

The Seattle Fire Department says there was no fire, which had been suspected early on. The fire department does operate a truck with a special fan to push or pull air through the tunnel if people are ever trapped inside.

The Seattle railway tunnel was constructed by the Great Northern Railroad to bypass traffic along the waterfront. Here's a shot I took of the Empire Builder just emerging from the north end of the tunnel in August, 1960.

I opened this piece by stating that the life of a commuter was, at best, tedious. Read the following story; need I say more?

Man Hit by train twice in two weeks in California

February 23, 2010

IRVINE, Calif. (AP) — A man who lost his hand after being dragged by a commuter train two weeks ago in Southern California has been hit by a train again.

Police say the man claimed he fell from the platform onto the tracks at the Irvine station and was hit by a northbound train Tuesday morning.

Sgt. Mike Meyers says the man gave the same explanation when he was hit by a Metrolink train at about the same time two weeks ago in Laguna Nigel and dragged 87 feet. His left hand was severed at the wrist.

The sheriff's department investigated the first incident as an accident.

Police say the man was taken to a hospital Tuesday with non-life-threatening injuries and will receive a mental health evaluation.

Information from: The Orange County Register,

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