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Trains, Additional Subthemes

Subthemes: Management, Train Wrecks, Expressions

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.

Expressions: The 30 idiomatic sayings presented alphabetically below refer to trains in a figurative sense. I exclude direct uses of the theme word and proverbs. The idiomatic expressions come from my own knowledge of English and a multitude of online sources:

7esl, ABCEnglish, Basic English Speaking, befluentnyc, Cambridge, Career Ride, English Eagtutor, English with a Twist, EngVid, ESLexpat, Free Dictionary, Ginseng English, GoEnglish, Grammar, High Level Listening, Idioms Online, Idioms4U, Know Your Phrase, Learn English Today, Lemon Grad, Literacy at Work, MacMillan Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, MMMEnglish, My English Pages, Online Teachers, Owlcation, PerformDigi, Phrases, Phrase-Thesaurus, PowerThesaurus, Reverse Dictionary, Twining English Centres, Using English, and Your Dictionary.

“boulder-train” (A line or fan of rocks caused by a glacier)
“bring in its train“ (Cause something to happen)
“crazy train” (Idiotic antics, silly enthusiasm)
“ghost train” (A ride in an amusement park’s dark tunnel where effects scare riders)
“gravy train” (A job that pays much money without demaning much effort)
“have one’s sights trained on (someone or something)” (Focus on a goal)
“in the train of someone” (Following closely behind)
“in train” (In an active state or condition)
“it is not the whistle that pulls the train” (Boasting should not be mistaken for the work that produces real achievements)
“lay a train” (Create a trap or snare for catching wild animals)
“like a train” (Move with an unstoppable momentum)
“lose your train of thought” (Unable to resume one’s previous progression of thought)
“milk train” (A local train that stops at all or most stations, slow)
“pour on the coal” (Work harder or faster)
“pull a train” (Have sex with two or more men sequentially or at the same time)
“punch your ticket” (Qualify for advancement, get through a requirement)
“ride the rails” (Hobos illegally travelling by train)
“ride the train” (Adapt to a change)
“roll-train” (Set of plain or grooved rolls for rolling metal into various forms)
“run train” (Dominate)
“set in train” (Start a sequence of events, to set in motion)
“smoke train” (a trail of dust and gas left by an exploding meteorite in its passage through the atmosphere)
“step in front of a moving train” (Sacrifice a life for a cause)
“that train has left the station” (An choice or opportunity is no longer available)
“time train” (A set of wheels that drives the balance and escapement of a timepiece)
“train of events” (A series of events or actions that are connected)
“train of thought” (A person’s progression of thinking)
“train smash” (Cooked tinned tomatoes, usually with bacon)
“train tea” (A tea party at which formal dress is worn, often a debutante’s presentation at court)
“train wreck” (Total disaster, catastrophe)
“trainspotter” (Person obsessed with trivia)

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