Wonderful post, Sir! Damn near felt like I was in the cab with you!Here's the deal.
Picture your self on the right hand side of a locomotive that is pulling a good sized freight train which is moving along about 40mph.
You're up there, you've got the window open and say it's late evening this time of year. There you are, up there on that engine doing your job.
You pass a whistle post, so you instinctively reach down and grab the bell valve, and you pull it towards you, obviously, this causes the bell to start ringing. You reach for the horn valve and begin your required horn sequence of 2 long blasts, 1 short blast, and one more long blast, the required distance from the crossing.
As your train approaches the crossing, you notice out of the corner of your eye, the headlights of a rapidly approaching vehicle. You grab that horn and sound it continuously. Then you notice the back of the vehicle lights up as the brake lights come on, and the front of the car lowers a little, as the driver slams on the brakes. He manages to stop before hitting your locomotive.
When you are a young engineer, in that situation your heart races, you feel the adrenaline in your body, and it freaks you out a little bit. The more it happens, the less it freaks you out (and it happens a lot). A new Conductor will look over at you and say something like "man that was close." Eventually you'll just look at him and say "Kid, you've never seen a close one."
That's what happens every day on every railroad that crosses roadways all across the country. The logical thing to do, is look both ways before you drive across a railroad track. In addition to that the only thing the engineer can do to protect you is to sound the horn.
A train traveling 40mph is moving 60 feet per second.
You figure that force = Mass X Velocity2.
What do you think will happen if you get hit by a 15,000 ton train traveling 40mph?
99.999% of the time, you sound that horn, and those brake lights come on, almost like they are mechanically connected.
Next time you hear a train horn, and you think the Engineer is blowing the horn too loud, or too much, instead of assuming that he's being a jerk, cross your fingers, and hope that those brake lights come on.
Sometimes they donít.
I, personally, feel no loss for the idiots that don't bother to stop for the train. I do, however, feel for you that are driving the train and the emotional hell you go through for taking a life while just doing your job. Though my words mean little, all I can say is, "don't sweat it". It is certainly not your fault. Lord knows you can't swerve.
Keep on doing your best and blowin' your horns loud and long! I would rather lack sleep than be dead!