Old 01-07-2008, 04:37 PM   #1
cassfan3
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Hi All,

I hope everyone is enjoying the new year, and wouldn't it be even more enjoyable if you were able to help me out this semester in a project you might just find interesting? Warning: this will be a long-winded post (sorry) but PLEASE read on!

Here's the deal: I will be graduating from the University of NC at Charlotte in May, and in order to graduate from the Honors College, I will be undertaking a senior thesis/project. This is an interdisciplinary program, so as long as it somewhat relates to our degrees (which in my case is a psychology/pre-med double major) pretty much anything goes.

My long term mentor (and conveniently thesis advisor) has known about my love of RR's for a while and has long been bugging me to do something train-related. At first I could think of no way to tie RR's into my academic fields, but then the proverbial light bulb came on. I've gotten my proposal past a committee, and now comes the actual work!

Before I tell you all where you can help out, here what the thesis will entail:
My thesis will examine RR grade crossing accidents from a multifaceted standpoint that we may already appreciate, but the general public fails to acknowledge. Once complete I'll use bits & pieces from the thesis to create a display that will at the very least reach our school community (which at over 22,000 students + faculty & staff isn't bad).

The thesis will cover:
1) The unique physiological implications of a train vs. MV collision as compared to a MV vs. MV collision.
2) The psychological implications train crews face knowing that over the course of a day's work they could strike and kill someone and have no control over the situation.
3) The 3rd section of the thesis will look at the psychology of "beating the train" and try to de-bunk the popular public opinion (especially among people my age in this area) that trains are merely a thing of nostalgia. I want to show that we aren't driving over dinosaur bones when we cross the tracks: trains are very much a thing of the present, and they can kill, but there is more to these tragedies than mangled metal.

HERE'S WHERE YOU ALL COME IN I plan to construct this thesis out of research and interviews (stats are nice but nothing captures a reader like a personal tale!). I have some contacts in my area, but I'd like several more from across the country, so if you are a railroader or know one who might be interested in sharing his/her experiences with this subject with me (whether first hand or not), I am conducting short e-mail or phone interviews.

Obviously, this may be a very personal topic to discuss for some, but for those who are willing it's for a good cause. (Hey, if you know someone who has been hit by a train or a doc/nurse etc. who has had experience with accident victims and can talk medicine with me, I'll talk to them, too.) If you would like to help out, contact me at "nomclean@uncc.edu" or "trainman222@hotmail.com". Thanks guys!

Best regards,

Nick McLean
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Old 01-07-2008, 04:55 PM   #2
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Cool! Sounds like some interesting work.

Quote:
Originally Posted by cassfan3
The thesis will cover:
1) The unique physiological implications of a train vs. MV collision as compared to a MV vs. MV collision.
2) The psychological implications train crews face knowing that over the course of a day's work they could strike and kill someone and have no control over the situation.
Nice.

Quote:
3) The 3rd section of the thesis will look at the psychology of "beating the train" and try to de-bunk the popular public opinion (especially among people my age in this area) that trains are merely a thing of nostalgia. I want to show that we aren't driving over dinosaur bones when we cross the tracks: trains are very much a thing of the present, and they can kill, but there is more to these tragedies than mangled metal.
You have two different topics: what people think about when they try to beat a train and how people think about trains. The way they are juxtaposed, it seems like you have already answered the question before doing the work. Is it your conclusion or your working hypothesis that it is "nostalgia" that contributes to risk taking at railroad crossings?

Furthermore, your last sentence, "to show that we aren't driving over dinosaur bones when we cross the tracks: trains are very much a thing of the present," that part of it is not a research question in line with the others. It sounds more like an informing-the-public effort. I'm not sure how that part fits in.

Or maybe I am reading in too much, and you are simply saying that people misperceive what it means when crossing lights begin to blink? Are you saying that you think they don't actually believe a train is coming?

I know, I know, it's just a casually written post, but hey, it's academia, I read it to a higher standard. No offense intended.
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Old 01-07-2008, 06:03 PM   #3
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Nick,

While there are a lot of rails posting on RP.net, I think that only a small smattering of them read the forum.

Might I suggest you also ask the same question on some other forums too?

I would recommend,

Trains.com forums (General Discussion at Trains Magazine has a lot of rails).

Train Orders - This one costs money to join, but is probably the biggest.

Railroad.net

Good luck,

Charles
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Old 01-07-2008, 08:17 PM   #4
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I have a photo of a car crossing the track as the gates come down. Let me know if you'd like me to email it.

There are some railroaders on socalrailfan.com who might be interesed in helping.

Good Luck!
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Old 01-07-2008, 09:55 PM   #5
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Janusz,

Haha, indeed it was a casually written post, but thanks for the critique nonetheless! Much of part 3 is in fact my preconceived notions and assumptions that are not (as of yet) backed up by the "facts" which will consist of previous research as well as my polling of UNCC students. You are right in that my post puts my expected conclusions in front of my hypothesis.

However, while I called it a thesis, I initially referred to it as a "thesis/project" because the program views this project more than just a collection of data to answer a research question. In addition to that, the thesis/project/etc. is looked upon as a capstone/reflective effort, so everything need not read like an academic journal. Hence my wish to include first hand stories, and my intention to put my own spin on trains not being nostalgia. Also, i didn't intent to infer that people think when the gates go down that a train won't show up, but (among other notions) it seems that my friends all consider trains archaic and slow, and we here all know how difficult it can often be to judge the speed of a train.

To all suggesting other forums--I'm on it! The larger ones I know about, but keep letting me know about ones that I might not.

Thanks!

Nick
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Old 01-07-2008, 10:02 PM   #6
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Quote:
o all suggesting other forums--I'm on it! The larger ones I know about, but keep letting me know about ones that I might not.
Well, if you want hand's on info, I'm sure you could just pull your car in front of an oncoming train and ask them how they felt about it when they come to a stop...
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Old 01-07-2008, 10:18 PM   #7
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Should be an interesting project - hopefully you can post your poster here when you're done. I've done a couple of train related projects for my courses down here... man, it makes a difference when you're working on something you're actually interested in.
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