Trials and Tribulations of Railway Inspections
Carrying out a railway inspection can be very worthwhile and a lot can be learned. However, in some cases it is the unexpected that can give cause for concern. I made an inspection trip over the railway line between Yacuiba and
Passenger train entering the station with the inspection car in the siding, Yacuiba line, Bolivia, 1998.
We set out
and made good progress with just one
passenger train to pass. Around lunch
time we stopped at an isolated section shack.
It seems that little work had been done that morning as
the entire gang
was milling around in a walled in patio where they were barbequing a
had slaughtered that morning. The
proceedings were presided over by a very fierce swarthy bow-legged man
brandishing a machete. All he needed was
bandoliers and a couple of pistols and he would have passed for Pancho
the Mexican bandit. There was a goat
wandering around the tables bleating.
matter with that goat?"
The goat was
delicious and I was given a lesson
in the finer points of goat anatomy. I
approached Pancho Villa and realized that he looked fierce because he
cross-eyed. I told him how much I
enjoyed his cooking and his face broke into a wonderful great grin.
We left in
good spirits which were soon
dashed. As we left a bridge there two
great explosions and the inspection car jumped several inches in the
air. It seems that the locals were not
with the railway because it had just started blowing the whistle (rule
at crossings and a malcontent had put a spike sticking a couple of
inches up in
a rail joint gap. Luckily we stayed on
the rails and were glad that it was not a train that was involved.
It was a hot
day and as we approached
advantage of railroading in