Every axle counts

Today didn’t start off great for me. I wasn’t sure whether it was the boiled sausages I ate for breakfast or the fact that I was drinking tap water (here in Germany the more literal translation is “plumbing water”) but I certainly wasn’t very well. My Thales rep suggested I drink bottled water from now on but he might be overly paranoid because he wanted me to be in top form for my presentation tomorrow. The brand of water at the hotel unfortunately has the word “bad” in it’s name…

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I learnt some interesting things today from the presentations I heard but I think the most interesting was about High Speed Rail Grinding. If you don’t care about rail grinding, skip ahead to the next paragraph. If you do, read on… With heavy use of rail by heavy loads (like coal trains), small cracks and deformities can form in the rail. In the extreme, this leads to multiple surface-breaking cracks and complete failure of the rail and can result in disasters such as the Hatfield Rail Crash. In order to prevent the spread of fatigue cracks, routine rail grinding is undertaken, shaving off about 2mm of rail head at a time to remove all the material that has been plastically deformed before the fault spreads throughout the rail. This is a slow process and usually we have to remove everything attached to the track. The presentation I listened to used a high speed rail grinder that could be scheduled just like normal train. It didn’t remove 2mm of rail every time, but the intention is to run it so regularly, that it would still remove the small cracks before they infected the rest of the rail. Also, it didn’t interfere with axle counters. Everyone’s a winner!

The maids at my hotel are top notch! Not only do they were traditional maid outfits complete with cap and apron, but they took it upon themselves to organise all my toiletries and make up in decreasing order of size. That’s commitment!

I have failed as a tourist, once again. I am still feeling rubbish so I have stayed home for an early night instead of going to the Apfelweinwirtschaft (essentially a cider brewery) with my colleagues. As lame as you may think me, it wouldn’t be nearly as lame as vomiting during my own presentation tomorrow morning. And with that charming thought, I bid you Gute Nacht!

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