OT: Steering a train?

Sir Richard Branson yesterday declared the driver of his crashed Virgin train to be a hero for staying at his post and continuing to 'steer' the train.
Am I missing something? I was always under the impression that trains didn't have steering wheels, and that their direction was determined by the track and points. Further, that when they leave the track their trajectory is determined purely by Newton's Laws of Motion - not by anything which the driver might do.
Is this not correct?
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On Sun, 25 Feb 2007 12:17:40 UTC, "Roger Mills"

Indeed. This was later corrected to 'he stayed in the cab to make sure the brakes were continually applied, rather than running for it back down the train'.
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wrote:

I thought trains had "dead man handle" brakes so they came on if the driver let go of the handle anyway.
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Dave Baker pretended :

SFAIK that only comes into operation if the driver fails to acknowledge a warning signal, produced regularly, or in response to a track side signal.
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On Sun, 25 Feb 2007 12:41:14 GMT, Harry Bloomfield

I think that puts the brakes on in a more controlled fashion but It was explained on News 24 this morning that in an emergency the driver operates a handle to pull the brakes on and then pulls another handle but I can't recall exactly what that does .
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On Sun, 25 Feb 2007 12:41:14 UTC, Harry Bloomfield

That's a different (parallel) system.
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I thought so too. It may have been something other than the 'emergency' braking, however.
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They do, but you get more useful retardation if you apply the brakes gradually and try to avoid the wheels locking up. This is particularly important after a derailment, as a still-rolling derailed train is _much_ safer than a derailed toboggan. It's quite likely that the driver _did_ behave in a selfless and heroic manner to try and stop the train sliding, which isn't recogised by Branson talking rubbish about "steering"
I don't know what happens if the emergency system on a Pendolino comes into effect. They're disk braked, so a full application would lock the wheels instantly. They're also fairly modern and sophisticated, so maybe they still keep the anti-lock system effective, even in such a case.
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wrote:

The friction co-efficient of gravel when in contact with a cast wheel intended for a track is going to be less than fuck all, so i'd be surprised if it would stop at all locked wheels or not!!
Tim..
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On Sun, 25 Feb 2007 16:16:12 -0000, "Tim.."

It's not friction with the wheel that stops them, it's displacement of the gravel as the wheels sink into it (and presumably gravel-on-gravel friction)
It all comes down to heat in the end anyway, so I guess Branston's hot air is just his attempt to help.
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wrote:

He did seem in a bit of a pickle...
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On Sun, 25 Feb 2007 16:16:12 -0000, "Tim.."
|!
|! wrote: |!> |!>>I thought trains had "dead man handle" brakes so they came on if the |!>>driver |!>>let go of the handle anyway. |!> |!> They do, but you get more useful retardation if you apply the brakes |!> gradually and try to avoid the wheels locking up. This is particularly |!> important after a derailment, as a still-rolling derailed train is |!> _much_ safer than a derailed toboggan. It's quite likely that the driver |!> _did_ behave in a selfless and heroic manner to try and stop the train |!> sliding, which isn't recogised by Branson talking rubbish about |!> "steering" |!> |!> I don't know what happens if the emergency system on a Pendolino comes |!> into effect. They're disk braked, so a full application would lock the |!> wheels instantly. They're also fairly modern and sophisticated, so maybe |!> they still keep the anti-lock system effective, even in such a case. |! |!The friction co-efficient of gravel when in contact with a cast wheel |!intended for a track is going to be less than fuck all, so i'd be surprised |!if it would stop at all locked wheels or not!!
Yes but the wheels flinging gravel around and digging trenches in it is quite effective as braking. Think about gravel escape roads at the bottom/middle of a hill, which are quite common in hilly areas.
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On Feb 25, 7:06 pm, Dave Fawthrop

They don't have concrete sleepers in them. Different situation entirely.
MBQ
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wrote:

I've explained the mechanism of a derailment turning into a pile-up in another post in this thread, which must have set some sort of record for false information and ill-informed speculation.
Derailment investigation was my job for over ten years.
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wrote:

On a car, the only effective difference between fully locked wheels and ones just on the edge of locking is whether you retain steering or not. As already pointed out, steering is not a consideration for trains.
Colin Bignell
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On Sun, 25 Feb 2007 21:36:12 -0000, "nightjar".uk.com> wrote:

No, the "stopping power" of a locked wheel is much less than that of a rolling one. So not only do you retain steering you also stop quicker.
Though I doubt this locked/rolling is particulary relevant in the case of derailed train. As has already been pointed out it'll be the "gravel trap" effect of a few hundred tonnes of train ploughing a course through the ballast or track side trees/bushes/furniture that stops it.
I do have a slight problem with calling ballast "gravel" though. Ballast is generally rough crushed stone in lumps around the 2" size. Gravel, to me, tops out at less than inch.
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The Metropolitan Police did a series of experiments that showed that the difference between the stopping distance of a locked wheel and a rolling one is minimal. The locked wheel is marginally better on a dry road. The rolling wheel performs slightly better on a wet one. However, the differences would not be significant in an emergency stop.
Colin Bignell
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nightjar <nightjar@ wrote:

Given the appalling driving standards of the plods that doesn't surprise me. No doubt they used a cross ply tyre on a transit van to prove their point.
The locked wheel is marginally better on a dry road.
The experience of every racing driver is that this is utter bollocks.
The rolling

Oh dear.

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They used a Police pursuit car with modern tyres and ABS alternately enabled and disabled. If you do the Austrian emergency services' winter driving course, you can see the video.
Colin Bignell
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On Mon, 26 Feb 2007 08:13:32 -0000, "nightjar".uk.com> wrote:

So why have car makers spent loads of dosh on developing systems that prevent wheels locking and why are such systems pretty much standard fit on all new cars?
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