Click on a Theme below to go to a summary of the four posts about that Theme.

Trains, Additional Subthemes

Subthemes: Management, Train Wrecks

Other sections have covered multiple subthemes of Trains elicited from four works of art: Claude Monet’s La Gare St. Lazare, an equestrian poem by Emily Dickinson, a bittersweet ballad honoring the fadeout of a long-distant train, and elegant travel, except for the murdered man, in a movie. Here are additional thoughts about the theme of Trains that don’t associate closely with any of those works.

Management: Business historians credit a variety of management innovations to the pell-mell, epic spread of railroads in the United States. For example, trains needed to run on time, so schedules and promptness became crucial. Large-scale construction of thousands of miles of track required project management techniques to be developed; control of the sprawling enterprise required data and the analysis of that data to determine such matters as ticket prices, employment, and profitability. Stock market issuances helped railroad companies raise capital they needed for investments. Purchasing and logistics at such scale brought about improvements in a multitude of ways. Trains, you might say, trained business.

Train Wrecks: Thoughts of railroad trains summon up nightmares of notable train crashes or derailments. Every now and then, an engineer makes a mistake, a stretch of track suffers damage, a switch moves the wrong way, with tragic results. The phrase “it was a train wreck” has become synonymous with massive disaster. Especially in less developed countries, carnage on the tracks accounts for thousands of deaths or injuries every year.

In addition to wreaks and derailments, train-track crossings claim lives and mangle people every year. According to the US Department of Transportation, there are about 5,800 train-car crashes each year in the United States, most of which occur at crossings. In a recent year, these accidents caused 600 deaths and injured about 2,300. Additionally, almost every two weeks a train derailment in the United States leads to a chemical spill. Some of these spills are so serious that they require local residents to evacuate. Trains are big, fast and powerful, so if something goes awry, havoc follows.

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