Author: David Schanoes

Who Watches Out for the Watchman?

We, the railroads, have established certain principles of safe train operations that we wish were absolute, positive, inviolable. We apply one such principle in the enforcement of train separation: the principle that

Single-Person Crews: Go Slow, I Say

Sorry for the bother, but while you were out, away, on vacation, taking your first trip in 18 months, or otherwise engaged, someone dropped the other shoe and from a significant altitude. The bigger fish was dipped, battered and tossed into the deep fryer. The wolf was at the door with a muzzle full of jokes.

PSR: A Bit More Scrutiny

Regarding the “point-counterpoint“ debate originally published in Fortune about Precision Scheduled Railroading and reproduced in Railway Age, with Brannon and Gorman on the “for” PSR side, and Rep. DeFazio (D-Ore.) not exactly on the “against”

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Tickety-Boo to You—Not Your Computer

I’m not worried that human beings working on artificial intelligence are going to produce machines that are smarter than us, and certainly not smarter than my three grandchildren, ages 15, 9 and 5, all of whom are definitely smarter than I. I’m afraid that human beings designing artificial intelligence are, in doing so, going to make most other human beings using the artificial intelligence more stupid.

Consistency Conspicuous in its Absence

Have you every missed something so completely that you question your own connections to reality? Like maybe missing the year or more of notices and communications from the Federal Railroad Administration regarding its “Miscellaneous Amendments to Brake Systems Safety Standards and Codification of Waivers” (Docket FRA-2018-0093)?

Make Sure the Damn Air Brakes Work

There are many things that can’t be hurried in this life, and probably shouldn’t be, like wine and bread (let beaujolais nouveau and matzoh be a warning to us all). There are other things that could use a bit of hurrying, like medical fitness for duty standards and the National Transportation Safety Board, but those two have proven themselves so resistant to urgings, proddings, cris du coeur, that they’ve almost worn me down. Almost.

In Defense of the FRA

I don’t often feel the need to defend our industry’s regulator, the Federal Railroad Administration. Part of that is me. Like many who have stumbled into a career in this industry (and I literally stumbled my way into railroad employment, half-blinded and three-quarters frozen by a blizzard in Chicago), I’ve always had a problem with authority. Not that I begrudge anyone his or her authority, title, rate of pay—any of that stuff. I just don’t like other people telling me what to do, and I positively hate it when others think they need to tell me what to do.

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Congratulations, NTSB!

I chuckle sometimes these days. Chuckling, in some circles is considered to be an indication of maturity, of wisdom. Those circles don’t include me, and they don’t mean me. Chuckling is that kind of half-wry, half-sad, half-surprised, half-jaded response—and that’s two many halves.