back to article Train maker's coder goes loco, choo-choo-chooses to flee to China with top-secret code – allegedly

A software developer fled to China from America with vital train transportation system computer code, US prosecutors have alleged. Xudong "William" Yao stole the software blueprints from his former employer, an unnamed locomotive manufacturer based in Chicago, it is claimed, flew to the Middle Kingdom, and took up a job with a …

  1. gerdesj
    Devil

    Fat Controller

    Yawn. Bloke nicks railway related stuff worth nothing (if he even existed and this story isn't even more bollocks than it appears)

    Hmmm, let's use the principle of least stupidity here. US or China - most advanced railway system? When you think about advanced trains and infrastructure do you instinctively reach for US? Trains (per se) are not really that advanced any more. Yes, stealing a set of plans will speed development a bit but in the grand scheme of things it is not that important.

    Now, if those super cunning Yanks had solved the Travelling Salesman problem and that Chinese bloke had nicked the solution then I will wind my neck in and doff my hat.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Fat Controller

      While the US passenger service is really outdated compared to high-speed trains available elsewhere, don't forget the US move a large share of goods using long and heavy cross-country freight trains - and countries like China can be very interested in what is used to run such a system too - especially using less expensive lines than those needed to high-speed trains.

      1. Stoneshop Silver badge
        Boffin

        Re: Fat Controller

        don't forget the US move a large share of goods using long and heavy cross-country freight trains

        Which hasn't struck me as particularly advanced either. Just 'a lot', not 'a lot through innovative measures'.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          "Which hasn't struck me as particularly advanced either"

          Are you sure? Moving long and heavy trains has its own issues - you need specifically designed engines, often multiple engines that can work together, and some are even designed to cope with the quirks of specific lines. They may not look sleek and shiny like passenger high-speed trains, but they require their own technology.

          It's very different than running light high-speed trains on their own carefully laid down lines which avoids smaller radius curves and slopes beyond very strict parameters, and usually run across densely populated areas.

          The Chinese "Belt and Road" project requires to haul a lot of goods by train across China and a lot of Asian and African countries which may have old long lines running across little populated and difficult terrain, and may not be (yet) electrified - not surprisingly not very different from a lot of US territory crossed by freight trains - where it could be too expensive to deploy and run anything close to high-speed electric trains.

          US train makers have a long experience in such kind of transport, you won't see it for example in Europe where routes are shorter and most of it electrified, for example.

          1. Pascal Monett Silver badge

            Re: "US train makers have a long experience in such kind of transport"

            So long that the railways are in dire need of repair, or even replacement.

            I'm glad you have such faith and admiration in a part of your country's industry. You might want to check that though, by finding out how long it's been since your beloved US train makers have made a new model of train.

            When an industry is advanced, it's because it keeps advancing. France made the TGV because France has a long experience in such kind of transport and there was a need for it. Japan has a supertrain because Japan just has to be at the front of everything technological. If China wants to steal train secrets, given the size of the country, I'd be expecting them to steal from France or Japan.

            The US may have mastered putting several engines together to pull a long string of freight cars, but they did that thirty years ago and have done nothing since. I don't see any value in stealing from that.

            1. SotarrTheWizard
              Trollface

              Re: "US train makers have a long experience in such kind of transport"

              Question is, is a new model of train required ? If you've optimized a basic model, most upgrades (like electronics) are bolt-on additions, and can be upgraded as required.

              Last numbers I've seen have North American freight traffic a~9 times the tonnage of EU traffic, over a significantly larger footprint. And yet we have a system that works well enough that freight train accidents are memorable events.

              1. Anonymous Coward
                Anonymous Coward

                Re: "US train makers have a long experience in such kind of transport"

                Just look at airplanes. Most designs are 30-40 years old, if not more, but a very few new models. Most have been slightly upgraded, mostly in most fuel-efficient engines and more glass cockpits.

                Railway engines frames have a long usable life - and that doesn't mean they are not retrofitted to become more efficient and reduce costs. Railways are not stupid and look for profits too - and moving cheap goods around requires to reduce transportation costs as well.

                1. TRT Silver badge

                  Re: "US train makers have a long experience in such kind of transport"

                  And of course you can always bolt the engines on further forwards and create a handling characteristics mapping between the old and the new. Worked for Boeing. Sort of.

                2. Anonymous Coward
                  Anonymous Coward

                  Re: "US train makers have a long experience in such kind of transport"

                  Except that American railroads ARE stupid. A huge part of why there are so many trucks on the freeways is that rail freight is not even remotely predictable. You can call up a trucking company and have your load delivered where you want it within a 15 minute window. You can call up a railroad and get it delivered within a 15 day window.

                  Sure, rail is cheaper, sometimes. And when you're not picky about timeframes, like with commodity products that have very long shelf lives and are reasonably easy to store, you'll save money with rail. But because American railroads cannot get their act together on scheduling shipments, you'd better be shipping oil, corn syrup, plastic pellets, lumber, or coal, not the critical parts you need to keep your just-in-time production line running.

                  Honestly, I'm surprised China has any desire for any info about American rail at all. They're already FAR better at rail.

            2. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              "So long that the railways are in dire need of repair, or even replacement."

              Sure, and engines have to cope with that. Lines just like those China needs to send their goods across in their "Belt and Road" project.

              Again, TGV/Shinkansen kind of trains are utterly useless to move large quantity of goods across very long distances over little maintained lines across difficult terrains. Being able to send longer, heavier trains could be a key factor in the Chinese plans. Do they have that technology already?

              Europe too is working on deploying larger capacity freight trains - now often hindered by older lines and smaller tunnels (i.e. Frejus, which was opened in 1871), despite having already deployed high speed trains in many countries (France, Germany, Italy, Spain...) - and planning high-speed/high-capacity routes. While the higher capacity trains will have higher speeds too, they will require different technologies from the passenger trains. Just think how different is stopping a much heavier convoy, and the risks associated to some goods.

              1. Alan Brown Silver badge

                Re: "So long that the railways are in dire need of repair, or even replacement."

                "Being able to send longer, heavier trains could be a key factor in the Chinese plans. Do they have that technology already?"

                The Chinese do. Where they run into problems is where they interface into Europe at the Turkey or Poland (although the gauge change in and out of Russia is vexing too)

                Berne loading gauge was standardised 104 years ago and just about everywhere uses it (or significantly larger) in Europe except the UK and the tunnel under the Bosphorus Strait (it's not the tunnel that's the problem, it's the silly-tight curve leading into it).

                USA, Russian and Chinese loading gauge is a fraction taller/longer/wider than Berne and Berne derived gauges (G-series) have been tweaked a little to allow for intermodal containers. The result is that a Berne-gauge set can go nearly anywhere, but GA/GB/GB+/GC etc have to be carefully checked to ensure they won't hit anything when travelling outside their home areas (ESPECIALLY into France!)

                China's global domination plan is to restore the Silk Road and not have to crossload their freight onto different wagons/bogies or locomotives to get it to destination - all the way to Africa. I can see them paying to upgrade loading gauges on strategic routes to make this happen.

                I can also see them deploying vactrains beside or in addition to the existing high speed rail routes. 300km/h is simply too slow for some of the distances they're travelling and aircraft are going to be increasingly grounded in coming years due to CO2 concerns - with ground-based routes frequently being significantly longer due to the need to go around mountain ranges.

            3. Stoneshop Silver badge

              but they did that thirty years ago

              More than double that: EMD built the first multi-unit locos in 1939, and multi-loco traction is basically the same as cab-plus-booster(s), technologically.

              1. Ryan 7

                Re: but they did that thirty years ago

                Distributing them throughout a very long train (i.e. measured in km) is still a fairly specialist endeavour.

          2. Stoneshop Silver badge

            Re: "Which hasn't struck me as particularly advanced either"

            US train makers have a long experience in such kind of transport, you won't see it for example in Europe where routes are shorter and most of it electrified, for example.

            Multi-loc traction is nothing new in Europe either, with multi-current and multiple signalling standards on top of that. There are now even locomotives that are primarily electric, augmented with diesel for the last few km (industrial spurs are only rarely electrified, or just partially).

            And mixing passenger and goods traffic on the same lines is much more common. Which makes for a lot of specific rules in the signalling logic if you don't want to treat every train as the slowest heaviest goods train that line might carry.

            1. Kev99

              Re: "Which hasn't struck me as particularly advanced either"

              The rail system in the US is basically them as it was in the 1890s. The only difference is instead of using telegraph and Morse code the internet (???) is used to send orders. I'm sure there's more than one yard that still has hand thrown switches and signals. As to the locomotive software it was probably for trying to squeeze every drop of energy out of the diesel fuel. Engineers used to have to pay close attention to all the gauges, dials, and indicators. Now it's all done with computers and all the engineer pays attention to is hitting the dead man's switch to let the computer know he's still awake. Several roads are already running autonomous trains in testing. Now if they could only get rid of the idiot humans who think they can out run a million ton train.

            2. really_adf

              Re: "Which hasn't struck me as particularly advanced either"

              And mixing passenger and goods traffic on the same lines is much more common. Which makes for a lot of specific rules in the signalling logic if you don't want to treat every train as the slowest heaviest goods train that line might carry.

              Can you elaborate? It looks to me in the UK like passenger trains may have a higher speed limit, presumably if their braking is good enough, with the default limit presumably being for the heaviest goods train (both presumably for trains with the worst brakes in the worst conditions, plus margin). No need for special signalling logic in this case.

              Mixed speed traffic is very obviously a headache for timetabling though, same as stopping vs non-stop passenger trains of the same type.

              1. Stoneshop Silver badge

                Re: "Which hasn't struck me as particularly advanced either"

                Can you elaborate?

                In the Netherlands train distances and frequency[0] usually don't allow treating every train like the one with the longest braking distance. Apart from that those signalling rules are more about trying to keep a constant speed for freight trains[1], those not entering a tunnel if it's not clear up to at least one section past, passenger trains not entering a tunnel if there's a freight train on the opposite track, oversize or dangerous loads, etcetera

                [0] we have one of the busiest railway networks in Europe, if not the busiest. And we're trying to cram some more in still. With, for the moment, signalling hardware we received through the Marshall plan, but with all kinds of computer systems tacked on to make the best of it. It has been announced that ERTMS will be coming into wider use.

                [1] train drivers currently have an app for that, allowing them to not only see signals further ahead than would be visually possible, but also what kind of train is ahead of them at what speed, whether it's going to turn out or not, so that they can smoothly adjust speed if necessary, and save energy.

                1. Roland6 Silver badge

                  Re: "Which hasn't struck me as particularly advanced either"

                  In the Netherlands train distances and frequency[0] usually don't allow treating every train ...

                  I think your list goes deeper than the train movement control and stepping tables and down to the actual track circuits, block size etc.

                  Yes, as the network utilisation increases things do get a little more complex, hence why there is a desire to move to radio blocks, that allow for more dynamically managed track utilisation.

                  However, this complexity isn't helped by the planners. In the UK a major rail freight depot is being proposed where the main freight entrance will require slow moving (ie. sub 20 mph) freight trains to share tracks and cross the path of fast moving (120+ mph) passenger trains...

                2. Anonymous Coward
                  Anonymous Coward

                  Re: "Which hasn't struck me as particularly advanced either"

                  One train every half hour isn't busy. If they want to run every 15 minutes they demand more tracks.

                  Look at the London Underground for frequency every couple of minutes a train shows up.

                  1. Roland6 Silver badge

                    Re: "Which hasn't struck me as particularly advanced either"

                    >Look at the London Underground for frequency every couple of minutes a train shows up.

                    Depends where you are and where you want to get to. Once you get outside of zones 1 & 2 the frequency does drop somewhat.

              2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

                Re: "Which hasn't struck me as particularly advanced either"

                "same as stopping vs non-stop passenger trains of the same type."

                Back in the days when I suffered British Snail they had an answer to that. Send out the sopping service first.

            3. MJI Silver badge

              Re: "Which hasn't struck me as particularly advanced either"

              Hmm 73 Electro Diesels

          3. Eddy Ito Silver badge

            Re: "Which hasn't struck me as particularly advanced either"

            You won't see it in Europe because ships are better. When given the option of transporting freight it is far more efficient to load the equivalent of over 25 miles of train on a single new panamax ship and sail it around dropping off stuff much closer to its final destination and maybe even taking on new cargo going somewhere else. Unfortunately we in the US are saddled with the Jones Act which makes rail and road the cost effective option while adding greatly to pollution and traffic.

            1. Stoneshop Silver badge

              Re: "Which hasn't struck me as particularly advanced either"

              You won't see it in Europe because ships are better.

              Citation needed. There are more industrial areas connected by rail than by river+canal, and rail doesn't suffer from drought, which has been quite the problem in Europe over the past few years.

              1. Stoneshop Silver badge

                Re: "Which hasn't struck me as particularly advanced either"

                and rail doesn't suffer from drought

                Addendum: indirectly it does, as it doesn't have the capacity to take on all of the excess that river/canal shipping can't handle in such a situation.

                1. Marketing Hack Silver badge
                  Boffin

                  Re: "Which hasn't struck me as particularly advanced either"

                  Note that train tracks can buckle in very hot weather, which is usually more common in a drought.

                  1. Stoneshop Silver badge

                    Re: "Which hasn't struck me as particularly advanced either"

                    Correct, but a buckled track is usually fixed within days. Low water levels tend to stay that way for weeks or even months.

              2. Eddy Ito Silver badge

                Re: "Which hasn't struck me as particularly advanced either"

                I was specifically referring to long distance transport like Hamburg to Barcelona. Large cargo ships are simply more efficient for long routes but obviously it falters when moving goods inland simply due to the needed size of the waterway to make it economical. Trains catch up rapidly as the size of the cargo ship goes down.

                In the US we effectively ship most everything over land even though it shouldn't be the most economical method. As it is a ship will dock in LA and disgorge its entire cargo and bits intended for NY or San Fran will go by truck or train. If a ship could dock in LA and subsequently dock in San Fran or Houston and go on to NY, Boston, etc. it would be more efficient but that is effectively disallowed by the Jones Act. That is also why US trains can run ~3.5 km in length where it's unlikely you'll find a train much over 1.5 km in Europe.

                1. Stoneshop Silver badge

                  Re: "Which hasn't struck me as particularly advanced either"

                  Large cargo ships are simply more efficient for long routes

                  When not taking transit time into account, that is; if the stuff already has to go via ocean shipping anyway (no railway line from China to the US that I know of) transit time is either irrelevant or taken into account in delivery schedules. If start and end point are connected/connectable by rail that does become a viable option, depending on (expected) volume and time saved.

                  1. Eddy Ito Silver badge

                    Re: "Which hasn't struck me as particularly advanced either"

                    Yep, like everything. Pick two:

                    Fast, good, cheap. Although it might be fast, large quantity, cheap in this particular case.

                  2. Dave 32
                    Pint

                    Re: "Which hasn't struck me as particularly advanced either"

                    > no railway line from China to the US that I know of

                    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bering_Strait_crossing#21st_century

                    "According to a report in the Beijing Times in May 2014, Chinese transportation experts are proposing building a roughly 10,000 kilometre (6,213 mi)-long high-speed rail line from northeast China to the United States.[13] The project would include a tunnel under the Bering Strait and connect to the contiguous United States via Canada."

                2. anothercynic Silver badge

                  Re: "Which hasn't struck me as particularly advanced either"

                  For much of the central US, ships dock in New Orleans/other Gulf ports and then use barges to ship stuff upstream (hence the absolutely insane set of complex levee/overspill systems that keep the Mississippi flowing in the bed it's been in). How much this affects rail is another question...

                  1. Eddy Ito Silver badge

                    Re: "Which hasn't struck me as particularly advanced either"

                    I'd wager that historically it's impacted rail a great deal. As mentioned elsewhere in the thread, rail is faster but ships/barges are cheaper. My guess is that North-South running rail lines largely supported passenger traffic but East-West was where rail easily out-competed canal projects for moving cargo as East-West canals would have had to deal with elevations over the Appalachians which would make the roughly 600 feet of the Erie Canal look trivial in comparison.

            2. solinmoon

              Re: "Which hasn't struck me as particularly advanced either"

              Land based transport avoids the "Global Force for the Petrodollar" that sails the IndoPacific routes ensuring "Freedom of Navigation" for those who use the Petrodollar in trade.

              Similar deal with the desirability of Arctic Sea routes, the USN does not have a massive Arctic presence.

              Not totally about moving goods efficiently, more about moving them freely and independently.

              1. Eddy Ito Silver badge

                Re: "Which hasn't struck me as particularly advanced either"

                Which nicely explains why China started their rail based Silk Road project a couple years back. Now if there was only an honest explanation for the Jones Act.

            3. John Savard Silver badge

              Re: "Which hasn't struck me as particularly advanced either"

              Why would the Jones Act cause problems? It doesn't force people to use railroad trains instead of ships, it only restricts the use of foreign-owned or foreign-registered ships. Which is perfectly reasonable, as it would be impractical to monitor the amounts paid for these imported services to charge duty on them.

              1. Stoneshop Silver badge

                Re: "Which hasn't struck me as particularly advanced either"

                as it would be impractical to monitor the amounts paid for these imported services to charge duty on them.

                Would it? Shipping agents, and with them ports authorities, tend to know the amount, and most likely the value too, of freight unloaded at port X, the amount loaded at said port, the amount unloaded at port Y, etcetera for all ports called. And just like train cargo is charged by the ton, you charge interport cargo by weight and tack that on to the berthing fees or something.

              2. Eddy Ito Silver badge

                Re: "Which hasn't struck me as particularly advanced either"

                It causes problems by raising the cost of everything because there are so few vessels that are US built, owned, flagged, and crewed so it becomes cheaper to use trains and trucks which use far more fuel, create far more pollution, and cause more traffic issues either by being on the road in the case of trucks or stopping traffic at crossings while 2 miles of train passes. Additionally the trucks also put more wear and tear on the roadways. All problems caused by the Jones Act.

                Also, how is tracking cargo that comes off a US built, owned, flagged, and crewed ship differ from those that don't meet all of those qualifications?

                Edited to add that dumping the Jones Act would also substantially lower the cost of living in Hawaii and Puerto Rico since everything is almost always shipped to the continent then back out on those few US ships.

        2. JLV Silver badge

          Re: Fat Controller

          Quantity has a quality all its own. European freight is almost all truck-borne, something to keep in mind as we try to slash emissions. Moving so much by train is therefore an achievement, even if US vs Europe distances, combined with legal driving time limits, probably explain a big part of the differential.

      2. Chris G Silver badge

        Re: Fat Controller

        China has relied on a massive rail network for decades, it has been the mainstay for moving goods around the country for years, I doubt the US system could teach them much.

        In addition the 'spy' went to an automotive company, I'm not sure what use these file would have for them.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Fat Controller

          Massive doesn't mean efficient. They are massive in many sectors, without being efficient nor autonomous.

          And they are planning even longer hauling - with the prospect to even sell and deploy railroads in countries in the "Belt and Road" project.

          He could have simply passed the information he gathered along - in exchange from something.

        2. Stoneshop Silver badge
          Trollface

          Re: Fat Controller

          In addition the 'spy' went to an automotive company,

          Self-driving cars are much easier to manage if they have to stick to rails.

      3. katrinab Silver badge

        Re: Fat Controller

        And I don't think they are using particularly advanced technology to do this.

        Running one train per day doesn't require particularly advanced signalling technology, even if the train is about 5 miles long and travels about 5,000 miles across the country.

        If I was looking for advanced railway technology, I would go to Japan, or maybe France. Even Russia has more advanced technology than the USA.

    2. MJI Silver badge

      Re: Fat Controller

      We may have some 125mph Diesel locos for sale soon.

      Best in the world at what they did, and only 40 years old.

      Think the US would want some?

      1. Wish You Were Here

        Re: Fat Controller

        They're off to Scotland.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Fat Controller

        How many miles before needing refueling?

        1. Gordon 10 Silver badge
          Joke

          Re: Fat Controller

          The scottish refurbs will be less efficient than the originals. All that extra weight of poo they are carrying.

          1. Gordon 10 Silver badge

            Re: Fat Controller

            For those thumbs downers - the joke was the fact that the ScotRail refurbs have had tanks fitted to collect the waste, the original model quite literally just "dumped" on the tracks.

          2. paulf Silver badge
            Boffin

            Re: Fat Controller

            As someone who has, on occasions, found reason to be trackside I'd suggest that the lack of retention toilets on the original HSTs was a nasty mistake. Someone has to work on and maintain that track you've smeared with your Brown Trout.

    3. vtcodger Silver badge

      Re: Fat Controller

      China km of High Speed Rail=29000. US km of High Speed Rail by international standards=0. (I'd settle for highway speeds, frequent service, not sitting in the middle of nowhere waiting for a slow freight train to clear the tracks, and adhering to schedules)

      China stealing train technology from the US seems a bit like the US stealing nuclear reactor technology from Papua-New Guinea

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Fat Controller

        High speed rails carries passenger. Not heavy containers full of stuff you have to sell abroad.

        A sport car is always more appealing than a large truck (albeit some Americans looks to love more trucks than sport cars) - but it's with truck technology you move goods around and make money, not with sport cars. Doing it more efficiently means more goods at lower costs.

        Keep on wearing blinkers.... the world is a little more complex than you think.

    4. Stoneshop Silver badge
      Trollface

      Re: Fat Controller

      Now, if those super cunning Yanks had solved the Travelling Salesman problem

      Salesmen don't travel any more. They just sit at a computer ordering from Alibaba and let FedEx sort the local logistics.

    5. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: Fat Controller

      This entire discussion seems to ignore the fact there seems to have been the company was doing stuff which needed software engineers and included source code for a control system. Presumably whatever the intended market there was stuff considered worth taking.

    6. anothercynic Silver badge

      Re: Fat Controller

      As much as AMTRAK might be rubbish (compared to other European rail systems), the loco builders in the US are actually *very* good. The 'Class 66' type locomotives in the UK are mostly (if not all) US/Canada-built.

      Given that China is building rail links across the Central Asian republics, finding good loco technology that allows for long trains is a good thing for China. They've always believed in 'acquiring' (by technology transfer or... well... espionage) the best they can find.

      1. MJI Silver badge

        Re: Fat Controller

        Build quality not great - hence sheds

        Quite usefull but will they last as long as a 37?

      2. Fruit and Nutcase Silver badge
        Thumb Up

        Re: Fat Controller

        Class 66 Evening Star - destined for the NRM when eventually retired from service.

        http://www.rail.co.uk/rail-news/2016/locomotives/

        "He added that “But we are here to celebrate GBRF and EMD - what a great business and who have been fantastic over the last 20 years. He pointed to the British Rail ‘Western’ preserved locomotive and said that it had almost as much power [as the Class 66] but over the last 40 years, the Americans have developed traction systems which enable the Class 66 to pull up to 3000 tons round some very hilly railways of the UK."

        John Smith, co-founder of GBRF

        1. MJI Silver badge

          Re: Fat Controller

          However the Brush built class 60s can pull more than a EMD 66

  2. Steve Davies 3 Silver badge
    Pint

    Nice Picture

    Well done el Reg for using a Picture of Didcot Railway Centre and a bunch of Steam Locos from at least 60 years ago.

    None of these will have any 'code' to steal or hack or be infected with malware although the crap coal (usually from Poland) that we have to use these days is a huge problem and means a lot more cleaning and maintenance of the Loco's. Oh for a nice load of Welsh Steam Coal!

    As it is Friday have one on me (at the appropriate time naturally)

    1. Citizen99

      Re: Nice Picture

      I recognise Thomas and Gordon.Can't place the others off-hand.

      1. Citizen99

        Re: Nice Picture

        Oops, I meant Henry, not Gordon.

        1. SMITCH79

          Re: Nice Picture

          There was a Gordon. I think he was blue.

          Henry was Green, but my favourite was James (small red engine)

          1. MJI Silver badge

            Re: Nice Picture

            But were any of those from Swindon? (Railway Story locos above)

            Makers of the best 4-6-0s ever.

            2 cylinder you have the Halls, very very surefooted and well up to their tasks. * (faves are Hagley and Raveningham)

            4 cylinder you have the Castles (I prefer them to Kings) very good express passenger locos, my second favourite steam loco after 9F. Favourites are Clun, Defiant and Pendennis

            * For Black 5 fans, Stanier was Swindon trained and the Black 5 was basically a Hall with outside valve gear.

            Even the BR 5MT is heavily Hall influenced

            1. ArrZarr Silver badge

              Re: Nice Picture

              I prefer the A4 class and the Coronation (sans streamlining) myself.

              I'm so sad that I'll likely never see a Princess Coronation blasting along at full steam.

            2. Citizen99

              Re: Nice Picture

              Pendennis Castle did well during the 1925 locomotive exchange trials with the LNER.

          2. graeme leggett

            Re: Nice Picture

            Gordon was green before he came to Sodor.

            I realise that could only have sounded worse if I'd put "Actually" at the start of the sentence.

            1. TRT Silver badge

              Re: Nice Picture

              Toby? Or not Toby? That is the question.

            2. The Oncoming Scorn Silver badge
              Boffin

              Re: Nice Picture

              I have a soft spot for "Duck", being a GWR Pannier tank (0-6-0).

              He was allowed to keep his GWR livery as The Fat Controller was apprenticed with Sir William Stanier at the Great Western Railway's Swindon works, which gave him a great love of all things Great Western.

              1. Anonymous Coward
                Anonymous Coward

                Re: Nice Picture

                Or the coal trucks that were always trying to push Thomas to his death.

                They were pricks.

            3. Citizen99
              Pint

              Re: Nice Picture

              A gracious contribution.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Nice Picture

      Well done el Reg for using a Picture of Didcot Railway Centre

      I was wondering if it was... While sat on a (regular) train at Didcot right now, by some remarkable coincidence

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Nice Picture

        While sat on a (regular) train at Didcot right now, by some remarkable coincidence

        I'm sitting in a French town that's twinned with Didcot...

    3. Suricou Raven

      Re: Nice Picture

      That's still modern tech on American railways.

    4. JimC Silver badge

      Re: None of these will have any 'code' to steal or hack or be infected with malware

      What about all the TPWS, ATP, OTMR kit and other gubbins needed to operate on the mainline these days? These things have plenty of electronics (and what fun it must be to keep them operational in the decidely hostile environment of a steam locomotive!).

      1. theModge

        Re: None of these will have any 'code' to steal or hack or be infected with malware

        They just turn that off to prevent the annoying beeping

        Wiki has it here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2015_Wootton_Bassett_SPAD_incident

        (Sweary blog post: http://pigeonsnest.co.uk/stuff/crapstuff/tangmere-wootton-bassett-spad-rail-morons.html)

    5. MJI Silver badge

      Re: Nice Picture

      Hmm Pendennis Castle

      And I just about remember seeing it before it was exported to Austrailia.

    6. TeeCee Gold badge
      Coat

      Re: Nice Picture

      If you can pinch the code from those for them, the Chinese will be chuffed.

    7. diodesign (Written by Reg staff) Silver badge

      Re: Nice Picture

      I'd hope by now that most of our article images are tongue in cheek, or deliberately trolly, to raise a laugh. Like using Babylon 5 pics to illustrate JEDI contract stories...

      C.

    8. katrinab Silver badge

      Re: Nice Picture

      Those trains are *a lot* faster than the ones that run in the US. Pacers are the same speed as the fastest trains in the US, and everyone thinks they are rubbish.

    9. Fruit and Nutcase Silver badge

      Re: Nice Picture

      Oh for a nice load of Welsh Steam Coal!

      Goldstein, is that you?

      1. Roland6 Silver badge

        Re: Nice Picture

        >Goldstein, is that you?

        No its Jones the Steam.

  3. Hans 1 Silver badge
    WTF?

    Vive la vida loco

    Ok, I have issues understanding this story.

    This guy is thought to have flown from Chicago to China with paper documents of US train company's IP. I would really want to know how they know that and why they did not stop him.

    Japanese, French, German and indeed CHINESE train system tech is probably 50 to 70 years ahead of any equivalent US tech.

    PS: About the title of this comment: the actual song name is "vivo la vida loca" - "living a crazy life" and "Vive la vida loca" would mean he lives a/the crazy life ... and for this article, we need loco (which means mad)

    PPS: Toy Dolls' version of that song is a must listen to!

    1. Fading Silver badge
      Trollface

      Re: Vive la vida loco

      Assuming they were not taken for a new career touring Chinese locomotive comedy clubs?

    2. Roland6 Silver badge

      Re: Vive la vida loco

      >Ok, I have issues understanding this story.

      You're not the only one. I see the US Dept of Justice in its press release declares that the download of "more than 3,000 unique electronic files" and "numerous additional electronic files containing Company A's proprietary and trade secret information, including technical documents and software source code."; all of which happened whilst Yao was an employee, was illicit; even though nothing in the indictment indicates that Yao did not have permission to download any or all of these files and that the downloads were or weren't necessary.

      I suspect from the indictment and its omissions that Yao, was actually identified by by some other agency that does not wish to be in the limelight and they needed a cover story that will prevent Yao from returning to the US...

  4. Paul Crawford Silver badge

    Dilligent?

    "carrying nine digital copies of the train company's control system source code among other secrets"

    I know we always say to have a backup of anything important, but did he really need 8 backups? Maybe it is down to a luck number in Chinese...

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: 9 backups?

      Maybe someone got confused about the meaning of "backed up to 9track tape"?

      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/9_track_tape

      Maybe someone thought "cipher" was something to do with encryption, rather than a manufacturer of tape drives and controllers?

      Or maybe not.

  5. OssianScotland Bronze badge

    William the Wily Engine?

  6. Claverhouse Bronze badge

    Actually, nowadays, once you get your hands on the Bruce-Partington Plans, you don't really have to carry them by hand to a distant country.

    1. ElectricFox
      Holmes

      Just don't transport them on the Underground...

  7. Winkypop Silver badge
    Devil

    The good thing about Chinese spies

    Miss one, and there will be another along very soon..

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: The good thing about Chinese spies

      And there won't be seemingly never ending industrial action by the Unions protesting over the role of a guard.

      Get them out of their little cubby-hole and in front of customers. The guard on the train from Waterloo to Basingstoke on Wed night disappeared into the toilet as soon as we'd cleared the platforms at Waterloo and didn't appear until we slowed down for the stop at Woking. Did it again between Woking and Basingstoke.

      1. Simon Harris Silver badge

        Re: The good thing about Chinese spies

        The guard on the train from Waterloo to Basingstoke on Wed night disappeared into the toilet as soon as we'd cleared the platforms at Waterloo and didn't appear until we slowed down for the stop at Woking. Did it again between Woking and Basingstoke.

        That'll teach him for pinching a prawn sandwich from the buffet trolley.

  8. Big_Boomer Bronze badge

    "Bwahahahaha, stupid westerners leave their secrets lying around where any fool can grab them, so I would be a fool not to. Now to transport them to my secret lair and refine them into my MASTERPLAN FOR WORLD TRANSPORT DOMINATION!" Jeez, even James Bond has had more credible story lines than that lately. Have you noticed how it's always the Chinese these days? Nobody elses industrial espionage gets a mention. If I were a cynic, I'd suspect the US of manufacturing stories to vilify the "enemy". I mean, it's not like the US to use political and financial pressure to bully other nations into giving up technology, is it?

    1. Alan Brown Silver badge

      I frequently encounter people who hoover up copies of any/all documents they can get their hands on. Some of these information hoarders are Chinese. Many more are Russian or American

      1. dnicholas Bronze badge

        I hoard useful code and documents too. Who doesn't?

  9. werdsmith Silver badge

    Any unnamed US loco maker must be part of WABTEC (Westinghouse) and Generally make diesel-Electric rail Transportation vehicles.

  10. _LC_ Bronze badge
    Stop

    What a bunch of bollocks!

    What do they want to sell us next, evil Chinese copying most valuable construction plans of the Leaning Tower of Pisa?

    1. Chris G Silver badge

      Re: What a bunch of bollocks!

      A couple of things are certain, the Chinese won't be trying to steal the recipes for Budweiser, Hershey bars or Taco Bell from the US, they can throw random crap together and still have a better product.

  11. Will Godfrey Silver badge
    Happy

    The reason they know such detail

    The Chinese felt sorry for the US so returned the documents with the errors corrected.

    1. _LC_ Bronze badge
      Megaphone

      Re: The reason they know such detail

      *lol* good one! :-)

      Seriously, here's how a few rich people "killed the opposition" and made the automobile bare of alternatives (they also destroyed trains):

      https://www.theatlantic.com/ideas/archive/2019/07/car-crashes-arent-always-unavoidable/592447/

      "Americans Shouldn’t Have to Drive, but the Law Insists on It

      The automobile took over because the legal system helped squeeze out the alternatives.

      ...

      In America, the freedom of movement comes with an asterisk: the obligation to drive. This truism has been echoed by the U.S. Supreme Court, which has pronounced car ownership a “virtual necessity.” The Court’s pronouncement is telling. Yes, in a sense, America is car-dependent by choice—but it is also car-dependent by law."

      1. Grinning Bandicoot
        Alert

        Re: The reason they know such detail

        The Progressives at the start of the 20th century held forth loudly that crime in the lower classes was caused by living and working in close quarters, that the lack of parks or other recreation except those noxious saloons encouraged wife beating, prostitution and politics. So the Progressive movement brought about zoning to separate the work place from the residence and thereby creating the commute. Of course the Progressive overlords had open spaces about their residences and the low life workers saw what these Progressive had and envied and extensive suburbs grew. Now the Progressives have forgot their earlier suppositions and declare that that these people should huddle close and that the work commute should be short and simple. The sum of it all is the rules of thermodynamics do apply to society and no simple answer exists. That all societal changes are experiments with unforeseen outcomes and we're still testing the 1900s experiment.

        1. Claverhouse Bronze badge

          Re: The reason they know such detail

          Well, Mr. Murphy the Fine Gael Housing Minister has some fine ideas for exciting 'Co-Living' arrangements, stacking the poor high and having the great sense of community only possible where 42 people share one kitchen.

          https://www.breakingnews.ie/ireland/housing-ministers-bizarre-and-ludicrous-co-living-proposal-branded-as-21st-century-bedsits-925805.html

          Of course, like all our masters they also want to bring in as many immigrants as possible, all places, all the time.

          'Twill teach the people not to be selfish feckers.

  12. Tom Paine Silver badge
    Coat

    hurry up

    ...and get to the points .

    In related news, M&S are now selling a ready-mixed cocktail called a "Woo-Woo". I've often wondered if it got the name because it makes you go like a train...

  13. Pascal Monett Silver badge
    WTF?

    "software blueprints" ?

    Is that a fancy new name for source code ?

    1. _LC_ Bronze badge

      Re: "software blueprints" ?

      Maybe they use that term to insinuate that it doesn't look anything like what "source code" should look like (Poettering)?

      I really should have rephrased that, but then again I'm a foreigner. ;-)

      1. TRT Silver badge

        Re: "software blueprints" ?

        I wonder what language it's written in? Anyway, but the time the Chinese have had their way with it, it'll be re-written in the train specific "Jade-on-Rails".

  14. Any other name

    Trains'n'spies

    I've taken trains in China. I've taken trains in the US. I know which ones were priced reasonably, which ones were comfortable, which ones were fast, and which ones were on-time. None of these four round go to the US.

    Not really surprising either, given that the last time the US made a serious investment in its railways was over more than 50 years ago - while China has been developing their rail (and of course ”borrowing" from other advanced rail nations - such as the Japanese, French, and Germans) non-stop for the past 20 years, and now runs the world's largest high-speed rail network.

    It would not be a shock if a US company tried to steal train designs and software from China, but the other way around just does not make sense - unless they are looking for the exhibits for their museum of railway history, of course.

    1. Jove Bronze badge

      Re: Trains'n'spies

      Ignorant and ill-informed.

      1. Any other name

        Re: Trains'n'spies

        Ignorant and ill-informed.

        Care to elaborate? For example, who, on which point(s), and why? Otherwise, it really sounds like an introduction ...

        1. Jove Bronze badge

          Re: Trains'n'spies

          Your ignorance is clear to to see for those that care to look.

    2. Carpet Deal 'em Bronze badge

      Re: Trains'n'spies

      Are you talking about municipal light rail/subways or Amtrak? The latter(originally created as a way for the major railroads to extricate themselves from the passenger business) is only around because there's not quite enough support there to axe the subsidies that make it possible. It's hardly surprising you got a better experience at some place that actually cares.

  15. Jove Bronze badge

    Widespread ...

    Every business needs to take seriously their vetting of staff with overseas links.

    1. Jove Bronze badge

      Re: Widespread ...

      "Every business needs to take seriously their vetting of staff with overseas links."

      Judging by the number of down-votes, it would seem that businesses also need to step-up vetting of their indigenous IT staff and contractors as well.

  16. Malcom Ryder 1

    It's not about speed, the software is about keeping track on all the stuff on the various cars, no mean feat

    1. ElReg!comments!Pierre Silver badge

      No mean feat but no rocket science either

      I should know, that's my job these days

    2. Roland6 Silver badge

      >the software is about keeping track on all the stuff on the various cars, no mean feat

      Suggest you visit a logistics company. I think the (largely off-the-shelf) systems they use to track packages through their distribution and delivery network are more than capable of handling rail freight.

      1. Stoneshop Silver badge

        Keeping track

        I think the (largely off-the-shelf) systems they use to track packages through their distribution and delivery network are more than capable of handling rail freight.

        Not really. Superficially it would work: keeping track of what's where, avoiding certain routes for specific cargo, not combining particular types of cargo and a few more such requirements.

        However, there's the need for that data to be passed from the freight co to one of the infra controllers (DB Netze, ProRail, InfraBel etc.) and from them to the next, in a standard format, as well as to regional and municipal authorities (not sure if that's when needed, on demand or whether they get that data anyway). It also has to tie in with the train planning as well as the route control software.

        1. ElReg!comments!Pierre Silver badge

          Re: Keeping track

          However, there's the need for that data to be passed from the freight co to one of the infra controllers (DB Netze, ProRail, InfraBel etc.) and from them to the next, in a standard format, as well as to regional and municipal authorities

          Currently, I work on the team that develop precisely that for one of the top 10 logistics company in the world, and while it's sometimes non-trivial, it's certaily not rocket science. Also, every company -and almost every route within that company- has its own very specific needs, so stealing info about how company A does it would be of little to no use for company B. At most you could get some business advantage if you could point the competion's weaknesses to the client, but in the present case neither the goods nor the geographical reach of the companies overlap, so stealing "software blueprints" would bring exactly fuck all benefit to the chinese company.

          Probably a "serial hoarder" who happened to be fired on completely unrelated grounds and who happened to find a new job, because that's what laid-off staff tend to do.

      2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        "Suggest you visit a logistics company. I think the (largely off-the-shelf) systems they use to track packages through their distribution and delivery network are more than capable of handling rail freight."

        Evidence says they're all too often not capable of tracking stuff through their own networks. It's OK when everything goes as it should but the use cases for nicked stuff, failure to deliver or whatever are due in some much later sprint.

    3. MachDiamond Silver badge

      It's not about speed, the software is about keeping track on all the stuff on the various cars, no mean feat"

      Also the management of rail cars, train building, track scheduling, special route planning and on and on. Moving freight in the US is super cheap by rail. Yes, it's faster to ship via lorry even across the country, but that's not a good idea if the trailer is stuffed with cheap Chinese tat and the cost of transportation is going to double the cost of the item.

      Passenger rail in the US runs mostly on lines leased from the freight companies. This means that those trains have to be integrated into the system and not delayed too much. Some freight trains that carry fresh foods, "The Lettuce Express" are given top priority so scheduling software has to be able to accommodate that. If you can "acquire" the algorithms for all of that rather than having to develop it yourself, that could be a very big savings.

      The article isn't too specific about the type of software that was taken.

      I'd like to see the passenger train system in the US upgraded and expanded. I loathe flying these day and much prefer a nice ride on the train. The US doesn't really need HSR as much as it needs to have highER speed rail. Give the size of the country, it's either a tiny bit of HSR that serves a few or highER that can be added for far less that can cover many more stops. Price is a problem too. I can make long trips for less money and arrive sooner than many trains even when spending a night or two at a motel along the way. Americans have been sold a bill of goods with flying everywhere and being in a rush all of the time.

      1. Roland6 Silver badge

        >The article isn't too specific about the type of software that was taken.

        No where is, however the indictment does note the relevant software was the "LCC-System-Specifications" and various designs and source code of the LCC.

        From what I can determine I suspect this is "Company A's" implementation of Life Cycle Costs, which seems to have been an important topic in recent years for long-life assets such as locomotives.

        Aside: I don't think it refers to the NMRA's LCC (Layout Command Control) which is targetted at railway modellers, but from its write up seems to have resolved many of the problems that IoT vendors and implementors are encountering,

  17. TJ1
    WTF?

    Device(s) cloned by immigration/customs at O'Hare?

    According to the indictment:

    "j. On or about November 18, 2015, defendant YAO travelled from China to O'Hare International Airport in Chicago, Illinois. At the time, he had in his possession over 3,000 unique electronic files containing Company A's proprietary and trade secret information, including nine complete copies of Company A's control system source code and the systems specifications that explained how the control system source code worked."

    Unless Yao was arrested at O'Hare how is this known unless Yao's devices were cloned and the images later inspected ?

    Or is this sleight-of-hand wording to imply Yao was carrying those documents through the airport? Note the indictment uses the term "in his possession" which isn't the same as "carrying" - potentially all this means is Yao is alleged to still have copies of those trade-secret documents after ceasing to be employed by Company A. It could be this wording is being used to satisfy the 'inter-state' requirement for bringing charges.

    1. Roland6 Silver badge

      Re: Device(s) cloned by immigration/customs at O'Hare?

      >how is this known unless Yao's devices were cloned and the images later inspected ?

      I find the final paragraph of the indictment interesting:

      The interests of defendant subject to forfeiture pursuant to Title 18,

      United States Code, Sections 1834 and 2323(a)(1)(B) and (bxl), include, but are not

      limited to, a Dell Inspiron Laptop Computer displaying express service code

      18637441525 and service tag 8K391X1.

      They seem to have a lot of information about Yao's laptop and clearly it is his laptop, as otherwise they would be including theft of computer on the charge sheet. So did he leave it behind or did he take it with him to China? And was Dell asked to do a custom download (via the Dell Support Service) to modify its behaviour...

    2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: Device(s) cloned by immigration/customs at O'Hare?

      It's one thing to state things in an indictment (or "Bluster" might be a better word) and another to produce evidence to that effect in court. It seems unlikely that they'll ever have to do the latter so they cold actually claim it included a solution to the travelling salesman problem if they wanted.

      1. Roland6 Silver badge

        Re: Device(s) cloned by immigration/customs at O'Hare?

        It is frustrating that there seems to be only two actual information source on this:

        1. The US Dept. of Justice press release

        2. The FBI's most wanted list

        Reading various media reports, it is clear they are filling in details facts to make the story more readable, in one "he was caught returning from a trip to China with the stolen files on his laptop". Given he was on the FBI's watch list, it would not surprise me if he was stopped on his return to Chicago and his laptop scanned/cloned or confiscated. This incident could have triggered Yao to skip the country as it seems the FBI have no record of him officially leaving the country.

        Interestingly, if this is what happened, I think those of us who travel with laptop, should take note of the basic premise of the allegations: namely, travelling from China into the US with (US) company confidential documents on your laptop when you are not in the employment of said company could land you in deep trouble - just how do you prove that whilst in China copies of those documents weren't taken by interested parties...

        Which basically, says the old advice about taking computers into the US from years back still applies, take a new burner laptop with you that only contains materials necessary for the trip.

  18. fishman

    Hacking?

    THe code may or may not have any value to Chinese Rail related companies. But it could be used to figure out how to hack the US railways.

    1. _LC_ Bronze badge

      Re: Hacking?

      For doing what exactly?

      The USA relies on trains least of all other countries.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Hacking?

        Trains are used for shipping payloads that are too hazardous or heavy for highways. If you were to launch a large-scale infrastructure attack to cause economic harm, crashing some of those trains might be on the list. Think about evacuating nearby towns due of fumes, loss of drinking water due to groundwater contamination, and not being able to move ultra-heavy equipment needed for other repairs.

        I'd like to think that train systems are impossible to hack but there's always somebody on the team who won't take security seriously.

        1. Stoneshop Silver badge

          Re: Hacking?

          I'd like to think that train systems are impossible to hack but there's always somebody on the team who won't take security seriously.

          The trackside signalling is a much softer target, although you have to do so by physical access to the datacom used so just creating a mess from behind your desk in Outer Elbonia won't work without local help.

  19. M. Poolman

    Didcot GWR museum and railway center

    In the picture - well worth a visit. Low tech, but great engineering and restoration on view.

  20. JaitcH
    Happy

    More Fake News From The Trump Government?

    So American industry doesn't do this? Or the Europeans?

    Get real.

    Use the American Rule Book: "It's not the taking part, it's the winning that counts"

  21. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Return to the USA

    "Should he ever return to the United States and be arrested, he would formally be charged and tried."

    I see no chance of that happening.

  22. TRT Silver badge

    Well if you follow any threads about Train Control systems...

    which for some reason El Reg isn't that into... you'll know about the debates raging on the London Underground about Seltrac versus Westinghouse and all those various flavours of TBTC and what capabilities they have, and how trials of one system over another can delay the renewal of rolling stock and various line upgrades etc. It's actually a fully fledged cock-fighting arena rather than some relatively trivial bit of pilfering. We are talking billions of $$ here. Just look at how much the UK is spending for HS2 stuff.

  23. Jeff Wojciechowski

    "an unnamed locomotive manufacturer based in Chicago"

    You mean EMD? There aren't too many locomotive manufacturers, let alone those based in Chicago.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Electro-Motive_Diesel

  24. This post has been deleted by its author

  25. Bent Metal

    "Citation needed"

    You're missing the point of the Jones act referenced above. See for example Investopedia on the Jones Act.

    "Perhaps [the Act's] most lasting effect is its requirement that goods shipped between U.S. ports be transported on ships built, owned, and operated by United States citizens or permanent residents."

    Good ol' US protectionism means shipping goods along the coast costs more in the US compared to the same transport Elsewhere, as there's a restricted set of ships/operators legally allowed to do so.

    Also, almost all of Europe is within 200 miles of a coastline. Once loaded on a ship, it's not just Europe you can move goods to. So outside the US, shipping is that bit more economically effective.

  26. david1024

    It isn't the code, it is what it does and how!

    Penetration testing is a lot easier if you can audit the code.... Just sayin'.

    1. This post has been deleted by its author

  27. Dave 32
    Coat

    4 Feet 8 and a Half Inches

    Maybe he stole documents which describe how the 4 feet 8.5 inches standard originated?

    Or, maybe he stole the plans for the toilets in railroad engines?

    Dave

  28. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Sophisticated controls for efficiency and emissions

    It's not all about speed, much of the innovation is trying to meet more stringent efficiency and emissions requirements with more and better sensors and software controls.

    I honestly don't know how sophisticated this is compared to Japanese, European or Chinese trains, but it at least seems plausible that it is very valuable.

    https://www.wired.com/2015/05/tech-makes-ges-new-locomotive-cleanest-ever/

    1. _LC_ Bronze badge

      Re: Sophisticated controls for efficiency and emissions

      I do. It's very un...

    2. Alan Brown Silver badge

      Re: Sophisticated controls for efficiency and emissions

      "much of the innovation is trying to meet more stringent efficiency and emissions requirements"

      Given that China's pretty much electrified its _entire_ freight network (the high speed passenger network is 100% electrified), what would that achieve?

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Sophisticated controls for efficiency and emissions

        "Given that China's pretty much electrified its _entire_ freight network (the high speed passenger network is 100% electrified), what would that achieve?"

        1. I don't think that's true. From several sources (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rail_transport_in_China and https://www.export.gov/article?id=China-Rail-and-Urban-Rail for example) less than 70% of its tracks are electrified.

        2. Locomotive manufacturers in China are looking at export markets, not just the internal market, so electrification of Chinese tracks are not the only relevant measure. They're building transport infrastructure and no doubt are planning to export rolling stock for that infrastructure (Duh!)

        1. _LC_ Bronze badge

          Re: Sophisticated controls for efficiency and emissions

          Everybody is moving away from Diesel engines. Laying tracks through the mountains, digging tunnels for decades – adding electification is really just a little bit of a squink in comparison, and electrification solves the described problem nicely.

          Diesel engines are really one step away from the old steam-engines. Would you steal information on "optimizing steam-engines"?

          On a side note, I had various discussions with railway personnel in a variety of countries about leaving empty trains with their engines running for hours (in summer). The explanations mostly boiled down to "regulations".

          THEY DON'T GIVE A CRAP ABOUT CONSERVING FUEL.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re:empty trains with their engines running for hours (in summer).

            I happened to read something on this subject a few days ago, can't remember where, can't find it just now.

            It was learned from experience in various countries that leaving a big diesel engine running at idle for a few hours was a valid way of reducing wear and tear and risk of failure,

            E.g. a true cold start requires warming the engine up for an extended period to ensure the engine has sufficient lubrication in place before starting real work.

            You might call that 'regulations'.

            1. _LC_ Bronze badge

              Re: Re:empty trains with their engines running for hours (in summer).

              That's probably the case. If you think this to the end, however, you have to keep'em running 24/7. ;-)

  29. dnicholas Bronze badge

    Lucky he didn't steal plans from a UK rail operator, he would have missed his flight

  30. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

    This was in 2014-15. By 2024-25 I wonder who, between the US & China will have the most trade secrets worth nicking.

  31. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Didn't the Chinese...

    Build most of the railways in the US?

    Or are Westerns not historically accurate?

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