Digest: Artists surprised whale's tail sculpture supported train

News Wire Digest second section for Nov. 3: Pittsburgh agency prepares to refurbish light rail facility; NJ Transit sued over COVID-19 death of conductor
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More Tuesday morning rail news:

Artists surprised whale's tail sculpture, made of thin composite material, supported train

The whale’s tail sculpture that supported a Rotterdam metro train after it overran the end of an elevated track in the suburb of Spijkenisse, Netherlands, is a hollow plastic structure with a skin that’s just 6 millimeters (less than a quarter of an inch) thick. Forbes reports sculptors Hans Muller, Peter Globevnik, and Eric van Uden completed the sculpture of a blue whale’s tail 19 years ago using a then-new composite plastic material. All three are part of Solico Engineering, which does custom engineering and manufacturing for defense, maritime, architecture and automotive use, among other projects. Muller said they were shocked to see the photos of the train on top of the sculpture: “My first thought when I saw the photos was this can’t be true! This tail was not designed for this.” The Associated Press reports a salvage operation is now underway to remove the railcar suspended more than 30 feet above the ground, with the car likely to be lifted off the sculpture Tuesday afternoon. The accident occurred Monday morning; the operator was the only person on board, and he escaped injury [see “Digest: Rotterdam train saved by landing on whale’s tail sculpture,” Trains News Wire, Nov. 2, 2020]. The AP reported the train’s driver was allowed to go home after being interviewed by police on Monday.

Pittsburgh agency prepares to upgrade light rail maintenance facility
The agency operating Pittsburgh’s light rail system has approved an $11.2 million upgrade of its light rail maintenance facility. The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports the Port Authority of Allegheny County has agreed to contracts for a 17-month rehabilitation of maintenance pits, plumbing, and electricity for the 35-year-old yard. Among the project’s six phases are restoring concrete approach and pits; replacing rails and supports; placing protective coating on the floor; modifying compressed air piping, drainage, and hot-water systems; and improving the electrical system and lighting.

Widow of NJ Transit conductor sues agency over COVID-19 death
The widow of an NJ Transit train conductor who died of complications related to COVID-19 has filed a wrongful death suit against the agency, saying her husband died because of a failure to follow established safety measures. NJ.com reports Joe Hansen, 62, died April 7, according to the suit filed in Superior Court of Essex County. NJ Transit said he Hansen, an employee for more than 20 years, was the first agency worker to die of the virus. An NJ Transit spokesman said the agency does not comment on pending litigation.

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