There is always something new and fascinating in the world of railroading. I suppose railroaders have to be prepared for the totally unexpected, which might disrupt train service. So far, among other interesting things, I have heard about the "wrong kind of snow" falling on the tracks and the electric power carrying third rail. This was indeed proclaimed by British Rail to be the cause for much delay to passengers during the winter of 1991. As one can imagine there was great public derision and amusement.
Deutsche Bahn AG (German Rail) did not fare much better a few autumns ago. Management insistet that "the wrong leaves had come on the rail, making it slippery". One does wonder if oak leaves are preferable to maple leaves on the rails.
Now comes this little gem from Perth, Australia:
Black Portuguese millipedes are suspected of being to blame for a rear-end collision between two trains in Western Australia.
Hundreds of the creatures were found squashed in a slippery mess on the track.
"Millipedes are one of the factors we are going to take into account," said David Hynes, spokesman at the Public Transport Authority of Western Australia.
Six passengers were treated for neck problems after a train pulling into a station at Clarkson, 25 miles north of Perth, ran into a stationary one, the train company said.
"What happened in previous instances is trains which were travelling at speed have gone over an infestation, crushed them and made the tracks slimy.
"The train loses traction and the train has slipped," Mr Hynes said.
In 2009, thousands of the millipedes overran more than a mile of track near Melbourne in southeast Australia, causing train delays and cancellations.
The species was accidentally introduced into Australia in 1953 and has become an invasive pest.
Without any natural predators in the country their numbers have flourished.
I have heard about a Union Pacific train being held up by a swarm of locusts covering the rail. Wether this is an urban myth or not, I do not know.
Well, there you have it. Slide on!