Why do European trains have shock absorbers at the end of each car, but American trains don ?
North American trains are most certainly equipped with cushioning devices. The early railway developers, primarily in Europe, adopted a simple mechanical linkage to couple cars together. This works well in tension, but not in compression. Buffers were added to prevent impacts, originally with simple springs. Modern buffers employ a hydraulic unit that provides both a spring force and damping. The knuckle coupler adopted in North America, among other locations, is rigid in both tension and compression. The coupler has some freedom to slide back and forth in the draft gear box. A short spring mechanism of some type was installed at the end of travel to limit the level of impact shock transmitted to the car. The impact shock in cars equipped with standard draft gear can be severe. In the early 1960s, draft gear with much longer travel (up to three feet) and more sophisticated cushioning systems were developed. These usually incorprate a hydraulic cylinder similar in concept to those found