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Hold your ground but do not be unkind. (Ponyphonic, "Shy Heart") He/him.


Following the retirement of Celestia and Luna, Princess Twilight Sparkle is now the unquestioned and undisputed ruler of all her land – including the transport networks. That means the major rail strike now looming will be all her fault.

Chapters (1)
Comments ( 37 )

Just wait until the Equestrian Postal Service ('We Deliver In Six To Nine Months Or We Will Refund Half Your Postage Provided You Have A Notarized Receipt') finds out that Twilight Sparkle not only has been using a dragon to circumvent postal regulations, but that he is UNDERAGED. (still want to write that one, darnit)

I wonder, would they have dared talk to Celestia like that?

... next time you come 'round my hometown (or even home country) drop a PM and we can do something :duck:. Have seen and experienced most of this (and more!) in my lifetime :applecry:

  • Multiple gauges, with none of the two most common being standard gauge
  • Old, mostly derelict and unsafe rolling stock
  • Little to no fare control, mostly because it would be a massive workplace hazard, and the train companies got most of their income via subsidies anyway
  • Police within the trains (and not only on football match day)
  • Not quite the bit with the Manehattan metro, but I have seen passenger train projects that have re-gauged abandoned tracks and then failed leaving "a bit of a mess"
  • Literally a single "long distance" (~300km) freight mainline with double track (all others are single-track)

The protesters luckily missed buying literal trash that didn't last 10 years to use as rolling stock (mostly power units, and a couple of DMUs), and massive workplace and passenger hazards, both in safety equipment (bypassed/disabled dead-mare switches because the company wasn't willing to pay for replacement parts) and otherwise (Asbestos insulation in recently bought used passenger trains, tunnels with insane noise pollution and bad air quality).

Very amusing and different to most Twilight Sparkle fics as well.


still want to write that one, darnit

I want you to write that one, darnit, too!

Interesting question! Slam might have done. I suspect Celestia might have skilfully eased her onto, well, another track without her even noticing, though. Twilight will doubtless get there too in a few centuries.

I think I can guess which country that is! Probably we all like to complain about our national rail systems, except of course the US where they don't really have one, for intercity passengers at least. :rainbowwild:

Thank you; I'm glad you enjoyed it.

Thanks to everyone for taking the time to read my silly little fic! :twilightsmile:

10831941 A problem that predates all of us. Back shortly after the turn of the century, a huge number of US midwest counties ran their own railroads using Model T engines. We had one a few miles away from us that went to Moodyville, which was trying to start a sanitarium to attract tourists with 'medical spring water' Then the hotel burned down, the 'railroad' washed away in a flood, and all that's left of the place is a cornfield. Someday I need to get my metal detector and check it out. I'll bet the railroad gauge was Model T axle width.

“You see, Princess,” said Slam Door, “we must strike while the iron is hot.”

Boooooooooo. :rainbowlaugh:

Not going to lie, I have wondered about some if not all of these issues regarding Equestria's rail systems more than once through the course of the show, but often brushed it off on the grounds that clearly the show's staff hadn't seen a need to put that much thought into the logistics and thereby neither should its audience...but then we wouldn't get fun silly fics like this now would we? :raritywink:

That said, the thought occurred to me throughout reading the fic that maybe none of the proposed changes had been made because there simply wasn't a public demand for it--despite its faults, the public is content enough with the system as-is, and of course, no one's going to be inclined to spend the money to upgrade if there was actually much if any demand for it. Plus, if they're really basically running the whole system on just three or so trains and are still able to service all of Equestria (and beyond even) without issue...it does sort of make one want to ask if it really is needed at all.

You know, a "if its not broke, don't fix it" sort of logic. But then that makes the whole idea of a strike all the sillier, because if we assume that to be true, then that literally makes the whole strike all the more pointless than it already is. :rainbowlaugh:

Transport is a mess at festival time anyway; that’s why airships are in such demand.

And there's another thought--it sounds to me that airships might be the real next step in Equestrian transportation than a more advanced railway system anyway, if it's already reliably and popularly infringing on the railway's turf and filling in needs itself cannot do. So maybe another problem the strikers are conveniently overlooking is that the trains are already outmoded, or will be soon, in favor of other alternatives. As already noted by other commenters, the US doesn't really have much of a railway system anymore (beyond that of cargo transport at least) partly because it doesn't have enough of a need for one, at least as a people-mover--many of the needs a train service can fill there is already getting filled by other modes of transportation that are either cheaper, cleaner, faster, or just altogether more practical altogether. I'm sure the fact that the US, being a very big place that is not very evenly populated, plays a factor in that too. Could be a similar case here in Equestria.

That said, I do kind of like the idea of a dragon-pulled train. :raritystarry:

That's why he said what he said at the end of the story, Twilight is still for all intents and purposes a princess, but also a little girl.

Absolutely hilarious. The bit about DOO is a direct violation of the safety rules of the railway itself, given that the driver is usually the first, and often the main casualty of any accident? And trains not at a platform, in the UK at least, are not exactly safe to depart even for a healthy mobile young adult, never mind children, infirm, pregnant, students traveling with a room of luggage etc.

“In any case, Your Highness, even with a full complement of fully trained earth pony stallions for haulage, these trains are slow by modern standards. You are doubtless aware that many ponies call them Trotters – and trains should be Gallopers at least. A symptom, if I may say so, of the chronic underinvestment that has plagued us for a long time now.”

People keep slagging off the Pacers, but let me ask. Would you rather approximately ride one of those, or get stuck on an open platform in the middle of winter with a blizzard, because there was no other transport option? And isnt it by definition, if the UK is withdrawing its most reliable fleet of 125 Intercities, then whats left isnt going to be as reliable?:twilightoops:

You could say the problem with steam trains is that they were only designed for one way travel. If you looked at bidirectional travel with reliability on a track, then the obvious is to have an engine at each end synched through say a hydraulic servo along the vaccuum brake, using flash boiler firegrates so what was the boiler is the water tank, and condenser tubes round the outside close the loop at cruise speed so water is only lost in acceleration from stations and braking. For first couple redesigns?

The UK railway gauge was an average of the various sizes of horses and cart designs, as in big range between pit pony and Shire Draught, and carts with wheels underneath, and those at the side? Noone liked the cost of sliding a wheel on the axel to handle multiple gauges? Even if its using locking pins,spring, tapered track etc?

Tracks in the middle of nowhere is definitely common. The town nearest my home used to have a station that was immediately below the town. Down a road so steep and long, people got the bus the half mile to the next station. The bus broke down and I beleive is the only time a powered bus service was replaced by a horse drawn service. At least in the area. The local trams used a single line for bidirectional travel, with a passing loop at each stop. Im not sure if they just used sprung points instead of the usual manual actuated. Then again, given the hills, they worked in pairs using the overhead power lines as the equivalent of electric funiculars.

I beleive Queensbury holds the record for one of the worst placed stations? It was at the Y junction between two long tunnels and a valleyline, and was 450 feet down the hill from the town it served.:pinkiecrazy:

And then it stops, in the middle of nowhere, so ponies have to trek over a mountain range for the last few miles. What sort of a railway does that?

Network Rail at the weekend.

This was short, silly, funny, and (in a good way) a bit stupid. My favorite! :rainbowlaugh:


Have to agree. I would love Equestria to go the Crimson Skies cargo/passenger zeppelin route (without the balkanisation, of course).

Equestia has some natural advantages. The weather including winds are controlled, so one of the main issues with zeps landing and taking off is negated. It's also clear that Equestrian zep technology is far better than real world versions from the relative size of the gondolas and envelopes, presumably because of magic. And of course with pegasi, you have far less crew problems, since a third of your population can fly independently.

What's more, they even have the captured Storm King airships to be refitted as the core of a merchant fleet. Investing in building airports at majpr cities and encouraging entrepreneurs to start their own compaines with grants and favourable taxation would almost certainly cost less than the massive cost of doubling the tracks for all of Equestria's rail infrastructure and adding turntables and switching yards.

Then there'd be opportunities for pegasus cargo carriers, creating routes to smaller outlying settlements that didn't warrant a large air vessel.

Then there's the environmental benefits. Equestrian rolling stock uses coal, we know this from Mmmystery on the Canterlot Express. Airships don't, though whether their engines are thaumic or something else is not known. And say your a farming community that needs to get out a large crop fairly infrequently. Which is less intrusive, a rail yard with cranes and switching systems, or a landing field where a zep drops down, and you just wheel carts of produce onto it's cargo deck?

Oh yeah, if you can get them to work, airships have basically all of the advantages...if you can get them to work, which is the obvious clincher for real life. But hey, not a problem for Equestria, clearly, so why not go for it, right? :pinkiehappy:

The ponies I represent do not believe that style of Dragon Only Operation is safe. Imagine an airborne DOO train where the dragon tired or became ill. You’d be risking the safety of everypony aboard.

Without redundant safety features like a backup dragon, you will be in deep doo-doo indeed.


'We Deliver In Six To Nine Months Or We Will Refund Half Your Postage Provided You Have A Notarized Receipt'

A pernicious memetic falsehood that belittles and denigrates the hard-working ponies of the EPS. The Equastria Postmare General takes customer service and satisfaction very seriously (seriously!).

The EPS understands the importance of good customer service and maintains a well paid, well-staffed customer service department to handle any and all queries regarding all things postal. In fact if you have a complaint or issue and want a live pony to "do something about it", you can even mail the Postmare General herself at the Complaints Department in Canterlot:

ATTN: Undeliverable As Addressed

This is hardly new, just ask her predecessor "Invalid Primary".

I haven’t worked on a railway buildout but I have worked on a highway expansion and I have to say: fuck you and your empty tracks. You have no goddamn idea how hard it is to get approval when your project involves shutting down the TWO busiest ramps in the city onto and off of an interstate highway.

The foremare struck a dramatic pose. Twilight still said nothing. Slam held the pose. Twilight continued to say nothing. Her companion's eyes began to take on a look of pleading. Twilight raised one eyebrow. Sweat was pouring off Slam's face. At length, the foremare struck a less dramatic pose, winced slightly in the manner of one whose muscles haven’t done anything as silly as that for quite some time, and finally she spoke.

This last bit feels like it might work better if you described the pose at least a little.

The earth pony waved a hoof dismissively. “My name is Slam Door,” she said. “I, together with my colleagues over there and many more you don’t see here—”

Obscure British railway operations reference #1. (Slam Door stock is a term used to distinguish commuter stock that lacks sliding doors.)

“No. It. Doesn’t. It goes most of the way to Griffonstone. And then it stops, in the middle of nowhere, so ponies have to trek over a mountain range for the last few miles. What sort of a railway does that? No, don’t bother to answer that,” she added as she saw Twilight open her mouth. “I’ll tell you what sort. A poor sort. The same happens at Our Town—”

There are quite a few places in Britain that are similar. The Metropolitan Line stops at Amersham, rather than at Aylesbury where it'd make more sense, and the Island Line (IoW) abruptly terminates at Shanklin, whereas it used to continue onwards to the large town of Ventnor.

Slam Door grimaced. “Well, if you call that close. Though that brings me on to the next problem. Why in the name of all things apples is the intercity network entirely single track? Manehattan has its Overhead Railway. We can’t even manage two tracks in empty country. There isn't even a turntable! The trains reach the end of the line and then have to reverse all the way back! Isn’t this supposed to be the age of express passenger transport?”

I'd always assumed that trains on Equestria's railways were auto-fitted, allowing them to reverse back down the line at line speed with the rear coach acting as a driving cab. This same idea is used with the Class 90 and 91 express passenger sets.

“The specification calls for some very demanding design features. Making a locomotive operate safely at high speed but look like something a foal would grow out of playing with before starting school isn’t a walk in the park.”

That made me laugh.

“The Manehattan trains are differently gauged, so converting any of those would be prohibitively expensive. The Crystal Empire Flyer has made it out of the Far North just once – and it broke down on the way back. Twice. There are a very few of the old pony-hauled expresses from the early days still around. I believe you and your friends travelled on one of the last of those when you visited Appleloosa to help plant some trees.”

Interestingly, the Crystal Empire locomotive is (seemingly) the only passenger service in Equestria fitted with continuous braking. The lack of conventional cylinders would also suggest some sort of steam turbine engine with gearing, making it an odd hybrid of the LMS Turbomotive and LNER Y11!

At this, Twilight lost her temper entirely. “WE ARE RIGHTWISE MONARCH OF ALL EQUESTRIA,” she boomed. “THOU ART SORELY TRYING OUR ROYAL PATIENCE.”

*Insert Monty Python joke here*

Slam Door’s frown gained a frown of its own. “The ponies I represent do not believe that style of Dragon Only Operation is safe. Imagine an airborne DOO train where the dragon tired or became ill. You’d be risking the safety of everypony aboard.”

Indeed. DOO is quite the political pickle, given the government's desire to force it onto railway workers who don't want it.

“There’s also the subject of fare-dodging,” said the foremare. She coughed.

Twilight felt suddenly attacked, but she wasn’t sure why. At least, not until Slam spoke again.

“We have signs up at stations saying that you need to have a ticket before boarding the train.”

“You can’t object to that, surely?”

“Of course not. But, begging your pardon, Princess, that is the problem. The signs don’t say ‘unless you can teleport’ in small print at the end.” She narrowed her eyes ever so slightly.

Another reason why guards are a good thing.

“You see, Princess,” said Slam Door, “we must strike while the iron is hot.”

Ooh, cliffhanger!

That was the feel I was going for, so I'm glad it worked for you. Thank you for reading! :twilightsmile:


Yes, I agree. I'm really, really rusty -- this is the first ponyfic I've published for nearly two years -- and I'm not surprised that it shows in places. I've done a quick edit of that passage now, actually. Thanks for reading and commenting! :twilightsmile:

I won't respond to all the in-depth railway-specific comments in detail, as that would make this comment incredibly long and I'd like to concentrate on comments about the story... but I have read and enjoyed them all. Thank you everyone for taking the trouble! (Incidentally, as is doubtless obvious, I'm British, so passenger trains are an everyday part of life for me.)

While I'm here: if anyone is looking for a serious fic set on the trains, I'd recommend you go and read The Descendant's The Railway Ponies: Highball from 2014. In my view, the best rail-related ponyfic there is.

And then Horsery Ford invents an infernal combustion engine that runs on Dark Magic... :twilightoops:

Twilight is completely OOC here - the last time she encountered a labor dispute, she (and Pinkie) dispersed picketers by threatening to cannonade them.

I still want you to write that, too. Though, upon further reflection, the idea does seem to have an Estee sort of flair to it. I suppose it depends on the what the title would be?

Something most people I've talked to don't realize is that the US interstate highway system was built for military reasons. Rail offers superior efficiency for heavy hauling, but what happens when a train engine is destroyed? That whole train is stuck. Contrast with a destroyed truck - the rest of the convoy drives right past or immediately reroutes.

Up against the investment budget of the post-WW2 military, it's little wonder US rail transport declined. Now I don't think it will ever make a significant comeback.

K but when the guy designing it was a former head of GM, and most of the inter city links planned by absolute racist trash, and by 1950 it was very clear you're not fitting aircraft on a highway, and the big auto manufacturers just so happened to buy up all the streetcar and passenger rolling stock to crush all around the time the highway was first built, it does seem like there were other motives besides what Eisenhower was saying

the highway was a strategic investment in some ways, but most of the people who funded it were in the pocket of big oil, autos, and racism, since the highway created a convieniant system to bulldoze minority neighborhoods

Well, clearly that'll be the sequel. Or not. :raritywink:

I like to think Twilight has learnt from and moved on a bit since that, perhaps with the help of Celestia's presumed "How to be a ruler without going to pieces" lessons in the intervening period. :rainbowwild:

Rulers can and do disperse picketers with cannon entirely dispassionately. Twilight herself did so in The Summer Sun Setback, which made a point of showing that Twilight was acting in her right mind. It's not a question of mental stability, but of ideological commitments - Twilight's politics would incline her towards riddling the workers with grapeshot over listening (however impatiently) to their demands.

It's not an isolated incident either. Twilight is a big supporter of forced labor, being a slavemistress and approving as a judge of contracts of indenture (and not even written ones at that - even in the bad old colonial days contracts of indenture longer than a year were covered by the statute of frauds).

I think it's probably fair to say I don't have your view of Twilight. Besides, I wrote this as a bit of stupidity to break a near-two-year writing drought. Want detailed, superbly crafted character studies of the Princess? I'm not your man, sorry.

Probably not. Most people don't, because coding speaks louder than actions.


And then Horsery Ford invents an infernal combustion engine that runs on Dark Magic...

Well if you think about it, the whole petrochemical industry could technically be considered necromancy...

10834019 Given that many major highways went through RURAL WHITE AREAS, where many POOR WHITE PEOPLE had their land yanked by government... yeah, let's just cherry pick history for THE AGENDA.

Face it, the government is just BAD. TO EVERYONE. And they keep you divided so you don't all target THEM.

10835815 It's more like "The Matrix", where the dead have literally been liquefied to power the living... :pinkiecrazy:

its not cherrypicking, there were legitimately openly racist politicians that abused the powers given to them by the new highway act to demo minority neighborhoods, its not like the south magically decided not to bake racism into this one thing, and then add to it highways became defacto boundries for already redlined neighborhoods, its had a long legacy of highways being built under the auspices of "its better for everybody" but causing massive displacement and loss of property and its just an urban myth/marketing point that the highway system was built for the military. state routes and projects built during and immediately after ww2 dramatically improved the road situation well before the highway system was constructed

government isn't inherently bad its the people we keep putting in charge that are


Can I ask that discussions like that which have nothing to do with my story go elsewhere, please? Thanks.

damn bro you going steampunk on us?

This would have been right at home in the feghoot contest.

I think it may actually have had its genesis at that time! It certainly took me forever to get done.

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