Today I heard a claim that the recently derailed train in Ohio was physically incapable of stopping except at its normal stops.
I am skeptical of that claim because:
- Normally a vehicle contains whatever hardware it needs to stop. Cars have brakes. Airplanes have wheel brakes and sometimes also thrust reversal, etc. For a vehicle to not contain any mechanism to stop itself seems odd.
- I cannot think how a train lacking such hardware could be safely operated unless the track contains hardware to slow the train.
To me the idea seems far fetched but I'm an electrical engineer, not mechanical, so it only seemed fitting to ask people who know more about mechanical things than I do.
I understand that trains take a long time to brake. This question is not how long does a train need to stop, why can't trains stop quickly, etc. I understand both of those. This question is about whether freight trains can normally stop themselves faster than merely coasting to a stop, which, as is common knowledge, takes a long time.
That is why I worded the question the way that I did. Is it normal for a freight train to require some kind of external device, be it part of the track or something else, in order to stop? Or is the idea a lot rot?