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Rail tragedy gives pause

By Staff
Our View
"More powerful than a locomotive," was part of a phrase that Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster used to describe to the readers, their creation, Superman. Back in 1933 as Siegel and Shuster created and American icon, the power of the locomotive was quite evident, even then. The locomotive or train is a tremendous piece of machinery that when traveling can haul huge loads of cargo, whether that is timber, coal, or passengers. As time has progressed, so have the train's strength, size and speed.
Have we not only as a community but as a world become too dependent on these machines? Some people would say so, probably from our older generation who can remember a time when there was no TV or internet and when the newspaper was the only source for information. We would have to disagree though. We haven't necessarily become too dependent on trains or machines in general but have adapted to today's times.
Thursday's train wreck in North Korea is an example that possibly these trains, our machines in general have become too frequent, too powerful, too fast and too unforgiving of human error.
The accident occurred when two trains both carrying fuel collided with one another resulting in an explosion that possibly resulted in the death of 3,000 people. Last November, Atmore escaped a derailment that could have proven disastrous if it had occurred only minutes later. However, these are only two accidents that have gained attention due to either the proximity of our town, or in North Korea's case, the devastation left behind. What about the countless number of trains that roll through Atmore and all parts of the world everyday without ever having an incident? Even now a train can be heard from our office rolling through Atmore.
Yes we are somewhat dependent on trains, but as our technology increases we have found other ways to travel and transfer goods. The Interstate has become a major method used to transfer goods and people since its conception. Just as towns were built near railroads, cities now grow at interstate interchanges. Travel by air and sea are also options that can now be obtained with only a few clicks on the internet.
Years ago, kids carried their books to school bound by a belt and wrote with chalk. Now they have clear book bags and use laptops. Yes, the times are definitely different with different ways of doing things; however that is not always necessarily bad.