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Old 09-05-2015, 05:50 PM   #1
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Death (suicide?) by train

Perla's trip to visit a sick relative today was delayed by two hours. She left from Martinez to Sacramento on the Zephr (a trans-continental train) ten minutes behind the local Capitol Corridor train. Apparently, the train ahead killed a person on the tracks. In the meantime, she could study the orchard in Elmira (southwest of Davis).



Seems like there are frequent deaths like this in the greater Bay Area (like every couple of months). One of my son's friends was killed by a train in downtown Oakland several years ago.
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Old 09-05-2015, 06:35 PM   #2
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There is a simple method to avoid being killed by train....stay off the tracks! Unlike cars, which can be unpredictable (not their fault usually), trains almost always stay on their tracks. So avoiding them is easy.

Their are a few trains in the USA that I plan I riding - bucket list if you will. The Zephyr is one of them. The carriage pictured looks quite comfortable.

I really like trains as a way to travel, and use them all the time when in Europe in particular. I commuted by train in the last couple of years that I was working, and even that was fine as I lived near a junction of 3 sets of tracks and quickly learned that the airport train was never crowded and the best one to catch. Sadly most long distance train journeys in Australia are very underwhelming experiences. The exception is The Ghan, running from Adelaide to Darwin, an 1851 mile trip.
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Old 09-05-2015, 07:49 PM   #3
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I was surprised the seats were facing outward rather than forward/backward. Great idea except for high-speed trains.

Trains in Europe are lovely. One visit in Germany we took 24 different trains in less than three weeks. Some destinations required more than a single train.
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Old 09-06-2015, 02:42 AM   #4
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I rode the California Zephyr from Oakland to Chicago and back when I was a kid. The train, which was pulled by the Western Pacific, Denver and Rio Grande, and Chicago, Burlington and Quincy still had stewardesses on board, called Zephyrettes.

Best train I've ever ridden on was the old Canadian Pacific Canadian from Toronto to Vancouver in 1978. I managed to talk my way into riding in the locomotive across much of Alberta and then through the Rockies.
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Old 09-06-2015, 12:47 PM   #5
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My Dad loved trains, his father worked for the old Union Pacific for almost 50 years. I still have the traditional "gold watch" he got when he retired. My Dad was stationed in Pearl Harbor from '59-61 and when we came back, we took the train across the country, SF to DC, I was 12, and I always remembered that as a great trip. So, when my son was 12, in 1988, he and I took a month+ long trip around the US by train. We left from North Carolina, went south to FL and across the southern route to LA, north to Seattle, and across the north through Chicago, NYC and back to NC. We had an unbelievable trip and that was probably the best thing I ever did as a father. My son still talks about the trip.
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Old 09-06-2015, 02:00 PM   #6
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The Amtrak version of the Zephyr uses the Southern Pacific route over Donner Pass (Overland Route) while the Western Pacific's Zephyr passed through the Feather River Canyon further to the north. WP and SP routes closely paralleled through Nevada. As a kid (1950s), the family travelled coach between Martinez to Omaha (two nights in a chair, ugh) a couple times. Much preferred the Union Pacific's service (east of Salt Lake City) which had a full diner while the SP (west of SLC) only had an automat car. The trains had dome cars for observing scenery.
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Old 09-06-2015, 02:31 PM   #7
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I always had a roomette on the trains. In the case of the Canadian this gave me access to the observation car, which also had a dome. I spent most of that trip in that car other than the day I rode in thr locomotive. It was a conversation I struck up with a fellow in the observation car that got me my first job when I moved to Seattle a year later. Turned out he was president of KING-TV in Seattle. He gave me his card and said to come see him if I decided to move to Seattle.

So I did. I didn't want to work in commercial TV anymore, I wanted to work for Boeing, but I needed something to tide me over until a job opened up there. I couldn't work as a cameraman in the studio because I didn't have a first phone, which was no longer a requirement in Honolulu, LA, or New York but still was in many other cities. But he got me a job as a freelance cameraman with Northwest Mobile Television which at that time was owned by KING. So I ran camera on a variety of live sports broadcasts until a position opened up at Boeing about a month later.

Lots of good things can happen when riding a train.
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Old 09-06-2015, 06:35 PM   #8
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Mark-the route we took whe I was a kid was through the Feather River Canyon. I remember to this day how beautiful it was and worrying that the train would fall off into the river, the train bed seemed so narrow, gouged out of the side of the mountain.
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Old 09-07-2015, 03:15 AM   #9
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Sad to say, the railways are used as a suicide method, it can be very hard on the driver involved. One ex driver, a psychiatric mess, told me the person he ran down and killed used to sit in the back seat of his car. I asked how he handled that, he said he would tell him to get out, and the person would leave. Unsurprisingly, he never resumed train driving, or any other work.
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Old 09-07-2015, 01:25 PM   #10
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I think my kids knew the boy from Piedmont who was killed a few years ago. He was engaged in some pretty high risk behavior at the time as I recall. A tragedy I somehow avoided when I was his age. Very sad event.
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