Thursday, October 1, 2009

Mysterious Thing

It's boring, waiting for the train at Ruggles in the evening, so once again I was looking at the stairs. The disintegration continues, but today I saw something new:

What IS that thing? It looks like a heavy cable, almost like a motorcycle lock, clamped around the base of the stair railing - and the other end goes into the concrete. Where the insulation doesn't cover it, it's clearly a multiple-wire cable. It can't be electrical. It doesn't look as if it has any structural purpose - how could it be holding anything in place? It's not tightly attached! Why does it go into the cement? Does anyone know?

There's another cable just like it on the other side of the stairs, by the way.

You might have noticed that there are bricks missing at the left-hand bottom side of the base of the stairs now. Here's a better shot:

Could the cable be some sort of temporary thing, like a clamp to hold things in place? It really doesn't look like it to me.


Anonymous said...

it's a grounding cable, it's for safety.

Banshee said...

Looks to be some sort of electrical ground. Is this on the Commuter Rail side or subway side of Ruggles. If it is the C/R side, its probably a ground since AMTRAK has their electrical lines for their trains overhead. Grounding the railing would be a safety issues if one of those power lines broke loose and came in contact with the railing or other matal nearby

Anonymous said...

It's a grounding cable as others have said. When you have a metal structure like the railing near high-powered electrical cables, there's the potential for a spark to jump across the gap of air between the two (ever seen the zaps they do at the Museum of Science electricity show?). That could cause 2 problems, heavy wear and tear on the metal itself if the charge has nowhere to go and the potential to use the next person who touches it as a way to get from the railing to the ground (it'd be as if you'd grabbed the overhead wires yourself). So, this gives it a way to get from the railing to the ground quickly and more conductive than a human or the brick and concrete that the railing is set into.

Quasit said...

Thanks everyone, that makes perfect sense! I knew it couldn't be part of an electical system, because the exposed wires would be a hazard...a lightning rod makes a lot more sense.

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With nearly a third of Bostonians using public transit for their commute to work, Boston has the fourth-highest rate of public transit usage in the country. The Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA) operates what was the first underground rapid transit system in the United States and is the fourth busiest rapid transit system in the country, having been expanded to 65.5 miles (105 km) of track,[190] reaching as far north as Malden, as far south as Braintree, and as far west as Newton—collectively known as the "T". The MBTA also operates the nation's seventh busiest bus network, as well as water shuttles, and the nation's busiest commuter rail network outside of New York City or Chicago, totaling over 200 miles (320 km), extending north to the Merrimack Valley, west to Worcester, and south to Providence and North Kingstown, Rhode Island.
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Boston by rail