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Joe et al.,
A very interesting thread - but it seems to be missing one important
point. Like everything else, standards are embedded in imperial devises of
different nature (politics, nowadays mostly business) - an important
determinant of how many will really be out there.
Let me illustrate this. About hundred years ago, Russia built its railways
to have wider gauge than the ones in Western Europe. It was a decision
taken against any engineering reasoning - and a very wise one, as it
turned out because Hitler was not able to send food and ammonitions by
train fourty years later and this was one drop (beside immeasurable
heroism and millions of victims) to add to the beginning of his end.
Nowadays it is no problem to go to Russia by train - I have done it once
myself: the train is lifted in the air at the border while the border
police and customs check the passengers, the wheels are changed and off
you go. But someone controls the lifting and may stop it, at his
discretion, if need arises. As a passenger, you have to rely to this
someone to lift the train - no matter why you travel, and where to. Or
chose another transport where other competing standards may or may not
Can you enlighten me on how many gauge widths exist in XML, and who lifts
the trains there?