Model Railroading — Blog Post #6
European Railway Notes December 2016
While I was looking at various pages of rescue train photos I saw some comments from other readers. Using Google to translate the page I was able to get the general idea of one reader’s comments. This person was saying that the DB only has rescue trains to make the public believe that rail travel, especially in long tunnels, is safe but this is just an illusion, it really isn’t safe. I don’t bring this up to make this political at all. But these comments made me think about how the rescue trains would be used in a real-world emergency.
If I was in charge of the rescue trains, how would I decide which cars were needed? Taking one made up example, let’s suppose there is some sort of accident in a long tunnel. Would I have accurate information from the accident site in time to know what had really happened? Perhaps I should assume there is a fire in the tunnel and send the railway cars designed to deal with fire in a tunnel in addition to those needed to clean up the physical damage caused by a train derailing in a tunnel. Can I send enough cars in one train to handle both fire and the physical cleanup? Where do we station all the rescue train equipment to be ready for the most likely accidents? Assuming the railway tunnel has twin bores, and the accident happened in one of the bores, I would have to decide whether to send the rescue train into the other bore or the same bore where the accident happened. I would need to know about any passages connecting the two bores. If the rescue train is in the unaffected bore, it could travel right to the accident site, but the access to the accident might be limited by the available passageways connecting the two bores..
On the other hand, if the rescue train is sent into the bore where the accident happened, how close could it get to the actual accident site? Has the track been damaged for some distance before the accident site? If I decide the bore with the accident site would provide better access, I would have to determine from which direction into the tunnel to send the rescue train. If the rescue train heads into the tunnel from one end, could we access all of the accident site? If the rescue train is sent into the undamaged bore, that would block any other traffic using the tunnel, effectively closing the entire tunnel until the rescue and cleanup were completed. While it is interesting to learn about the equipment available for rescue trains, it is daunting to think about actually putting it into use.
I also went looking for more examples of models of railway rescue equipment. I found a tunnel rescue train, Marklin 26546.
On the Marklin site, for this item, there is a prototype information section which had some interesting details about the operation of these trains. The locomotives are equipped with thermal imaging cameras to see through smoke. The rail cars have an airlock, which makes sense since the cars have to have an independent air supply which must be isolated from the conditions at the rescue site. This rescue train has locomotives at each end. If needed, after the train is in the tunnel and has arrived at the accident scene, one of the locomotives could take part of the train carrying victims back to the tunnel portal while the rest of the train stays in the tunnel using the other locomotive for power. These trains are ready to move at any time and this requires that they are kept at operating temperatures. I hadn’t thought of this, but, the fire extinguishing materials must be protected against freezing. Yet another complication of operating these rescue trains.
I found a Roco model of a rescue train with a crane car.
My personal favorite is Roco 1930 which has a Mercedes Unimog HiRail vehicle and a tank car used for training first responders.