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The Empire Hauls Freight


The opening sequence of the Star Wars movie (the original 1977 one, now known as Episode IV) is most famous for its crawling text that sets the scene for the film. I was always more moved by the Imperial Star Destroyer as it hunts a hapless freighter.

The freighter must be huge. It has ten eleven engines!

But the Destroyer dwarfs it. When you think you’re seeing the tail of it, there’s more. And then there’s more again.

I get the same feeling from this video of a 3.5-mile-long freight train:

Most people don’t spend a lot of time watching trains go by. Be assured, though, this one was special:

During a test in January, nine cutting-edge GE Evolution locomotives rolled past, each push-pulling a 6000-foot "consist" of double-stacked container cars. Each of the eight unmanned engines was connected wirelessly to the lead train car, also an Evolution, so the group's braking and acceleration could be coordinated.

It was almost three times longer than a normal full-length train, and consisted of 295 cars instead of 70. If you actually watch the whole video, notice that the train is moving at speed but still takes four and a half minutes to clear the crossing.