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“The Ghost Train Generator” is the name of a new invention that could help prevent train accidents and save lives. It was developed by an engineer at Fermilab, America’s premier particle physics laboratory. The technical specialist did all the groundwork for the invention in his spare time before bringing his idea to the attention of the lab’s Office of Technology Transfer.
Trains can take more than a mile to come to a full stop, depending on how fast they are traveling. Therefore, vehicles that become lodged on the tracks have little chance of avoiding being broadsided if a train comes along. According to the Federal Railroad Administration, hundreds of vehicles on railroad tracks are hit by trains every year. Railroad tracks are elevated for drainage and as some vehicles cross the “hump”, they bottom out and get stuck.
To solve this problem, the engineer studied the warning system that trains have for each other. Trains are able to trigger a signal that warns other train drivers that they are occupying a “block” of track. To avoid pileups, the other drivers will avoid that block of track until it is free. The Fermilab engineer decided the easiest way to save vehicles stuck on train tracks would be to simulate the presence of a train – hence the invention’s name “the Ghost Train Generator.”
A traveling train triggers the warning signal with electricity generated by the circuit formed by the connection of the train’s axles and metal wheels to the tracks. The trick was to create the same powerful electric current for a small vehicle on the tracks. The train has a massive amount of metal to use which a motor vehicle obviously does not. The engineer used knowledge and techniques learned in his twenty-year career at Fermilab to come up with a solution. The Ghost Train Generator is brilliant in its simplicity. A special wire connects two strong magnets. One magnet is applied to each side of the tracks activating the signal system so that approaching trains realize the track is occupied. The device works as long as the train is more than two minutes away from the crossing. The driver can then use the emergency hotline posted at all crossings to call for help.
This simple device is meant to be carried in vehicles that often get stuck at railway crossings such as semis and buses, and in first responder’s vehicles. Many people carry fire extinguishers and other emergency equipment in their cars that hopefully never has to be used, but when that moment comes, can save lives. According to its inventor, like seatbelts, his invention cannot save lives 100 percent of the time, but smart people use the safety devices that are available to them for prevention.
If you have suffered injuries in an accident caused by someone else’s negligence, we can help. At Folkman Law Offices, P.C. our South Jersey personal injury lawyers are dedicated to achieving justice for those whose lives have been upended by preventable accidents. Call us today at 856-354-9444 to schedule a free case review or contact us online. We have offices in Cherry Hill, King of Prussia, and Philadelphia serving clients throughout South Jersey and Pennsylvania.