Never before, said Conductor David Moore, had he traveled so fast. Moore's train, the Transcontinental Express, which crosses Australia's desert thrice weekly, was not supposed to exceed 40 m.p.h., but as it roared through the scheduled stop at Deakin one day last month, Moore clocked its speed at a breakneck 72 m.p.h. Passengers caught in the aisles of the six-car train were thrown to the floor as it rocked and swayed. Those who kept their seats had to dodge an avalanche of baggage falling from the racks above their heads.

Conductor Moore could not reach the engine. He later testified...

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