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News and comments on community broadband networks, the communities deploying them and the technologies that support them. Published by Denise Frey and Al Bonnyman.

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Thursday, May 08, 2003


Train derailment cuts fiber cable, isolating nearby towns

Train derailment cuts fiber cable, isolating nearby towns

A train derailment in Michigan cut a fiber carried buried along the railroad right of way. See article on Channel 12's web site.

A common myth is that burying fiber cable is the most reliable way to deploy fiber since nobody ever digs it up. Well, it's true that there are almost no backhoe dig-ups of this fiber, but less commonly known is how often these fibers are cut by derailments, even when the cable is buried several feet deep. Even a train with just a few cars may weigh 1000 tons and a full-sized train may weigh ten times that amount. When that much steel leaves the tracks going 40 miles per hour, it can plow a trench several feet deep and many feet long. Trains derail somewhere in the U.S. everyday.

Call me biased (I design fiber systems for power utilities), but fiber cables located high in the air on high voltage lines are much more reliable. The towers are designed to withstand every conceivable storm short of a tornado.


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