Half a croissant, on a plate, with a sign in front of it saying '50c'
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Track clearing vehicle

To prevent car/train collisions
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Picture this: The train is approaching a crossing, and the gates to go down, but the sensors indicate that there is an obstruction. The engineer hits a big red button which does 2 things: First full emergency brakes are applied to the train to slow it as much as possible. Second, the small car that the engineer is sitting in launches forward and accelerates, then suddenly applies full brakes to arrive at the crossing 10 seconds before the train. The engineer clears the obstruction then makes like a drag racer to avoid getting run down by the train which is still going 45 mph. (Ejection seat included at the request of the engineer's union.)

To enable fast acceleration, this vehicle increases it traction by using a large magnets to provide extra downforce. It also has wheels that get better traction than steel wheels.

To clear the vehicle that is stuck on the track, I first envisioned some sort of fork lift type contraption that swivels to set the vehicle off to the side, but that probably wouldn't be fast enough. A large version of a car air bag could be kind of entertaining. Stick it under one end of the car and detonate it to flip the car out of the way. It might do less damage than a collsion with a train. Or it might work to have a fork lift type device (or maybe just a wedge) that lifts the vehicle slightly, then the engineer simply applies full power. If the car happens to be centered, it gets picked up and carried along the track until the train can stop and the car can be safely unloaded. If the car isn't centered, it will fall off on one side or the other and get pushed clear of the tracks.

scad mientist, Nov 09 2004

Install a cow catcher http://www.ics.uci..../fb/CowCatcher.html
[Worldgineer, Nov 09 2004]

[link]






       How about a couple of missiles, some sentry guns to blow the shit out of any obstacles, and a battering ram to get rid of anything left?
scubadooper, Nov 09 2004
  

       Boy, the union is going to have a lot to say about this.....Casey Jones would have something to say, I'm certain.
normzone, Nov 09 2004
  

       I like [scuba]'s solution. Or simply install a cannon and a cow catcher. Inexpensive, simple, and more effective than a forklift.
Worldgineer, Nov 09 2004
  

       See also "Train bumper" right here in this category, for a related invention.
krelnik, Nov 09 2004
  
      
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