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Choo Choo Maru by Walter205

Ready to Depart, Over!!!

 I don't own Inuyasha, nor will I profit from it.

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"All right DTE Miami, this is M122 requesting permission to proceed north on the Mainline, over," said Sesshomaru into the radio. With his one free hand, he wiped another bead of sweat from his forehead. Not only was the 'Feels Like' temperature at 99 Degrees already, even though it was only 10AM, but the air conditioner on number 220 was on the fritz again, which made it feel ten degrees hotter inside of the locomotive cab.

At least he wasn't suffering as badly as his conductor, who had to get outside off the train to pull switches, and keep an eye on everything else. Kagome was practically panting as she finally settled down into her seat. At least the rail yard had automated switches for departures and arrivals.

He had been partnered with his conductor for only two months, as Kagome had only been on the job for three. But he has known her for much longer, being his girlfriend for the past three years. Originally she had taken school for computer repair, but following a decline in the local field, had switched over to join professions with him. But whereas she was new to the company, he was an old hat, having been on the job for just shy of ten years.

"M122, this is DTE Miami, you are cleared to proceed north," came back the voice of today's Dispatch Desk controller, Sango.

"Roger that DTE Miami. M122, lead engine DTE 220, proceeding north, out," answered Sesshomaru.

"DTE Miami out," finished Sango, terminating the usual procedure for sending out a new freight train.

Today would see them running north from the yard in Miami, FL, to Sebring, FL, where they would hand their train off to CSX, the locally connecting railroad that would take their train the rest of the way into Tampa, FL. They were carrying rock, one hundred hopper cars worth of it, with each hopper car carrying 100 tons of it. They had three engines pulling this train, DTE 220, with 208 and 205 behind the lead engine. They were connected in what was known as elephant style, where the fronts of all three engines were facing forward.

All three of the engines were SD40-2 type locomotives, one of the best general purpose diesel engines ever built for mainline freight by the various locomotive companies. Each engine was rated for 3,000 horsepower, and had no problems pulling this very heavy train across the relatively flat Florida railroad terrain. Sesshomaru cranked the engines into notch 8, the highest speed setting, and the turbocharged diesels roared as the train creaked, and then starting grinding forward as it picked up speed.

As they approached their first crossing, Sesshomaru pulled the horn once, then twice more as they got closer, then one final long toot as they ran across the gates, now going at about twenty miles an hour. They wouldn't reach another crossing for about thirty miles, so now was the time to be able to talk, while keeping an eye on making sure everything kept running smoothly. Sesshomaru eased the throttle down to notch 5.

"Did you hear? Another local senator wants to abolish the local freight trains," started Kagome.

"The same ones?"

"Nope, a different one this time. Newer to the reality that is the world of transportation."

"Hnn. What is his argument?" asked Sesshomaru.

"That more jobs would be provided to help stave off the unemployment rate."

"How does he figure that?"

"Well, for example, he thinks it would be better to have a hundred truck drivers employed than an engineer and a conductor, like you and me," answered Kagome, biting her lip.

"Moron."

"Well, maybe he does have a point, Sesshomaru."

"Ridiculous Kagome and I'll explain why. You see, in the particular example of this train, even at their heaviest capacity, it would take five hundred semi-trucks to equal the hauling load of this rock train. And this is just one trip. This train normally makes this trip five times a week. If the semis can make the trip there and back on the same day, you could probably reuse them for all five trips, but...."

"Well, give me some more examples, just to humor me," asked Kagome.

"Well, for one thing, there are fuel costs to consider. An engine like this one will consume an average of one gallon of diesel fuel per a mile, which with three engines means three gallons per a mile for the load hauled. A semi-truck will average perhaps five miles per a gallon, which some people see as better. But, when you factor in the need for five hundred of them to haul the same load as the three gallon per a mile train, you come out to an actual figure of one hundred gallons per a mile for the semi-trucks," Sesshomaru ticked off as number one.

"Okay, that's a good point."

"Then, there is the issue of wages. This train in a week will employ four people, two engineers like me, and two conductors like you. For one week that is an average of ten thousand eight hundred dollars in wages paid out, not counting what is taxed and all that, for one week. For five hundred semi-truck drivers, that figure would probably be about three hundred thousand dollars in wages paid out for the same amount of time period."

"Wow, that's a big difference, all right."

"Then there are other, miscellaneous factors. Such as maintenance. Three engines per a week versus five hundred semi-trucks? I'm not so knowledgeable in maintenance, but there would probably be a stunning difference in costs there too. There are also non-cost factors involved, such as pollution, traffic control, and so on. Sure a train may block a roadway for ten minutes or so, but would you rather have a chance of dealing with that, if you happen to be at a crossing when a train goes by, or would you rather deal with five hundred semi-trucks clogging up the roadways, ever so slowly accelerating after coming to a stop at each traffic light, making those wide turns, etc."

"Well, when you put it like that, I guess everyone should use trains."

"Incorrect. Companies that don't ship out as much product or lighter product would probably make a higher profit using trucks than rail. Plus, trucks are still used short distance for transporting product from warehouses and distribution centers where the railcars are offloaded to the local stores where the product is sold."

"Oh yeah, good point," stammered Kagome, blushing a little bit at that little piece of obviousness passing her by.

"But, in closing our discussion, if the rock company we ship for suddenly switched over to using semi-trucks, yeah they would probably employ about five hundred more people in exchange for us four losing our jobs, for perhaps three or six months. Then the company would go bankrupt from all the additional costs, those five hundred semi-truck drivers would lose their jobs again, us four would still be out of a job, and the ten thousand or so people the company employed would also be out of a job. Short term help for the economy, medium and long term disaster," summed up Sesshomaru.

He glanced over to see Kagome sleeping idly. He reached over with one arm and knocked her upside the head, knocking her cap off.

"Wake up," he growled irritably.

"Ow, that hurt. Don't slap me," she protested.

"Then don't fall asleep, even if I am boring you. You'll find yourself out of a job, and then I'll probably find myself stuck with my half-brother for a conductor again."

"Ok ok, sorry, but that was still rude."

"So was falling asleep on me."

"I said I was sorry! Are you going to apologize or not?" demanded Kagome, nearly yelling now.

Sesshomaru honked the horn as they approached the new set of crossings.

"What was that? I can't hear you over this horn!" he yelled at her.

As she sat back against the seat, huffing with her arms crossed over her chest, he smirked to himself. He would make it up to her in bed tonight. If only he knew that would be difficult with him sleeping on the couch tonight...

The End

 

INUYASHA © Rumiko Takahashi/Shogakukan • Yomiuri TV • Sunrise 2000
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