Tuesday, March 27, 2018

Talk about crime and societal breakdown . . .

What happens when respect for the law, and for property, is so degraded, and the desire to make money by any means available is so great, that lives don't matter?  This happens.

A train derailed in Cullinan on Tuesday afternoon, 30 kilometres east of Pretoria [in South Africa].

According to Alika Steyn of Friends of the Rail, the derailment around 13:30 was due to stolen train tracks.

“About 400 passengers were on board when the train derailed,” she said.

She said they were only aware of two drivers who sustained minor injuries.

No other injuries were reported.

There's more at the link.

This is a tourist train, using an historic steam engine and vintage railway cars on an old branch line (similar to tourist trains in the Colorado Rockies, for example).  Hundreds of people, many of them families with children, ride that line every day on these trips.  They're probably major contributors to the local economy, but that didn't matter to the thieves.  Neither did their lives or safety.  The passengers and crew are incredibly fortunate that no-one was killed or badly hurt.

Here's a video report about the derailment.

I know that area reasonably well, from a few years spent in Pretoria in the late 1970's and early 1980's.  I'm still shaking my head in disbelief that the social fabric could have deteriorated to such an extent that scrap metal thieves could make off with an entire stretch of railway line - or that a scrap yard would be willing to buy it from them!

It's very, very sad to see my country of origin go to the dogs like this.



Andrew said...

There are scrap metal thieves here in the States that steal fuel from hospital generators, or steal parts of the generators.

Then there are the people who go into office buildings and steal the copper wire and pipes after hours. And I am talking about 'occupied,' not abandoned, structures.

And about once a month or so, some scrap thief becomes carbonized trying to steal an electrified line.

Not to mention all the jerks who steal street signs for fun or profit. Or who steal solar panels from remote signal locations (a big problem on our rail lines with signal-sensor units.)

I have seen reports of scrap thieves stealing rails from 'inactive' lines, so we have those people here, too. Not from an active line, yet.

Just goes to show you that "we" are not that 'better' than those crooks in your article.

raven said...

Why make the assumption it is theft? rail road tracks a heavy, hard to transport and steel is at the bottom of the barrel as far as scrap prices.
My money is on terrorism. "tourist train" pretty well spells out the likely demographic.

neal said...

Infrastructure in the open is easy game. Hard work, small profit, low probability of intervention.
I heard Dickens covered that.

Animism. Almost seems excusable when it is just business?

Will said...

Did they bother to look nearby in the bushes to see if the rails were just hidden?

Peter said...

@Raven and Will: No, this wasn't terrorism, or an attempt at sabotage. If it was, they need only have removed one single rail. Instead, they took a mile or so of them, both sides of the track. This was theft.

Quartermaster said...

Track is very heavy. That was no ordinary theft. You're right about terrorism, tho. They wouldn't even have to remove the rail, just undo the bolts at a splice and move the end of one rail inside the other to cause a derailment.

raven said...

Two miles of track? 10,560 feet. Hire those dudes, they know how to get some work done!
Estimating weight at 100 lbs per yard, that is 352,000 pounds.

Anonymous said...

So even at a penny a pound (and in the US steel is 4c / lbs currently, it's worth it in a part of the world where the average income is what, low 3 digits?

The tribes in iraq/afganistan steel the power lines, then complain there is no electricity. WHILE they are energized.

All over the world, locals tap into pipelines and steal the oil/gas/water sometimes with explosive results.

High trust vs. low trust societies.... and we just keep importing more. Thanks Teddy.


HMS Defiant said...

Our local thieves are way too lazy to steal 355,000 pounds of anything. Fortunately for us or metroparkcentralis would be without railroads.

APL said...

"The fun ride takes place daily from Hermanstad, west of Pretoria to Cullinan."

Two miles removed in 24 hours?

RobC said...

Old news by the way... happened a year ago.

Quartermaster said...

Raven - more like 100 lb per foot. 92 lb track is the lighter weight stuff.

Magson said...

My former manager had an aunt over whom he had power of attorney, and she became unable to care for herself anymore, so he moved her to an assisted care facility. He then put her house up for sale so that the proceeds of that sale could be used to pay for her new living arrangements.

The house had several offers within only a couple of days, and went to closing in less than 4 weeks from the initial listing. But at the final pre-sale inspection the day before closing, it was discovered that sometime in those 4 weeks, thieves had cut open the crawl-space under the house and taken out all of the cooper pipes that the house used for plumbing, so the closing had to be delayed while said pipes were replaced.

From the amount of piping taken, it was probably less than 100 lbs of copper, and at an average price of about $2.50 per pound of copper... that was a lot of effort for a pretty small take on the thieves' part.

And it cost over $3000 to repair the damage.

The house was located in a "nice neighborhood" in Burbank, CA. No place is immune.