I've often wondered if pushing was more dangerous than pulling. Others have posted that "everybody does it", which I don't think answers the question of if it's dangerous or not, certainly doesn't answer the question of if it's more dangerous than pulling. Of course I also believe that automobiles are incredibly dangerous, and am not willing to feel they're less dangerous because billions of people use them every day.
My concerns about pushing have been that I expect heavy locomotive on the rear might keep pushing when it's not supposed to, as one of the reports I've read said kind of hints
http://usnews.nbcnews.com/_news/2013/12 ... in-ny?lite
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Sources told NBC News late Sunday afternoon that the train's engineer — a "respected veteran" with 20 years of Metro-North experience who suffered minor injuries — claimed when first responders arrived that he hit the brakes as the train approached the turn.
If he was going from 70mph to 30 mph territory he sure should have hit the brakes, that should be normal. With locomotive on the front there are just a lot fewer connections between the control stand and the locomotive, and a lot fewer places where something could go wrong. It's obvious to me that speed was a factor. Based on the photos I've seen I can't figure anything else that would leave the track, especially the inside rail, relatively undamaged and have so many jacknifed cars, and locomotive derailed. Whether the excessive speed here was the engineer's fault, highly doubtful to me, after all these guys go over the same track several times a week, and several times a day usually, so I expect the 30mph curve shouldn't have been a surprise. Or was it technical, a one in many thousands fluke that kept the locomotive from reading the cab car's brake control, yet still kept the locomotive from applying the brakes on its own, the standard fail safe 'emergency' application that's supposed to happen when something breaks?
Slightly less plausible to me is a track problem, for which I'd expect to see a lot more rails out of place, like I saw in the New Haven line mu derailment and sidewipe.
I'm also interested in hearing how the train's brakes performed before the crash. Did it have any problems stopping at its scheduled 6 stations?