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Wilde about Railroads

“The way of paradoxes is the way of truth”

“To test reality, we must see it on the tight-rope. When the Verities become acrobats, we can judge them.”

With these two statements the reader is soon introduced to the underlying principle of paradox throughout Oscar Wilde’s only novel, The Picture of Dorian Gray. This piece of literature drips with often-veiled aphorisms that either challenge or enlighten one’s intuition of humanity and society. While the author’s nearly-religious pursuit of beauty was the motivation behind this writing, the truisms revealed have applicability today … and, if you will grant me some wide-ranging poetic freedom,  within the rail industry.  Consider the following quotes and their applicability to railroads;  the OSCARS if you will.

“I can stand brute force, but brute reason is quite unbearable.  There is something about its use.  It is hitting below the intellect.” . . . Operations management if pressured to run to schedule.


“The true mystery of the world is the visible … not the invisible.” . . .  Operations management if pressured to recognize and integrate yard status in managing the main line lineup.


“Punctionality is the thief of time.” . . . Advocates for running a truly-scheduled railroad.


“People know the price of everything and the value of nothing.” . . .  Why the railroads need technologists (and not technicians) to pursue NOW the transition of analog VHF to digital VHF.


“Faithfulness is to the emotional life what consistency is to the life of the intellect – simply a confession of failure.” . . .  An evaluation of those who refuse to break with traditional methods of operations even though there are substantial benefits to be had.


“Good artists exist simply in what they make, and consequently are perfectly uninteresting in what they are …  inferior poets are absolutely fascinating.” . . . The boredom of running a scheduled (but efficient) operation vs. the “excitement” of traditional crisis-based railroad management.


“To be good is to be in harmony with one’s self … discord is to be forced to be in harmony with others “ . . . Why non-scheduled operations causes strife within a railroad.

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Given recent tech advances there is now an unprecedented opportunity to advance railroad operations and the integration of high speed rail with freight. Real-time traffic management and communication is possible without significant development and deployment costs, but it will take a technology strategy working hand-in-hand with an operational strategy, it will take Strategic Railroading.™
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