Thursday, March 26, 2015

Trunk Lines

Railroads have a significant impact on the environment around them. That’s such a given, it’s barely worth remarking upon--the very first locomotives built in the United States had cowcatchers, after all. Some species of animals have been more directly impacted than others, though, and the news headlines covering the Ringling Brothers Circus' intentions to remove elephants from its performances have brought up one such example. Since this circus and most others that operated in the past traveled by train, in this article, we’ll take a look at how elephants in the circus and in the wild have intersected with the railroads.

Friday, March 13, 2015

The Way We Talk About Railroad Accidents Matters

Significant railroad accidents tend to happen in clusters. The past two weeks have seen the derailment of two passenger trains, and several oil trains. Several of these incidents were caused by large vehicles stopping in the path of an oncoming train.

When covering these, and many other railroad accidents, the mainstream media typically gives only a passing mention to the fact that a member of the public caused the accident. This is a small, but significant omission. Framing the reporting so as to separate the death or injury of the person in the path of a train from their own actions, or to make it seem as if there was some negligence on the part of the crew, does not work in the public interest.

If the media changed the tone of articles reporting on railroad accidents and