Bunuel wrote:

A train crosses a bridge of length 500 m in 40 seconds and a lamp post on the bridge in 15 seconds. What is the length of the train in metres?

A. 375 m

B. 750 m

C. 250 m

D. 800 m

E. 300 m

We can let x = the length of the train in metres. To cross the 500-m bridge in 40 seconds, the head of the train must enter at one end of the bridge and the tail of the train must exit from the other end of the bridge. Therefore, in 40 seconds, the train actually travels the length of the bridge plus the train’s body length. In other words, the train travels (500 + x) metres in 40 seconds. If we let r be the speed of the train, we have:

500 + x = 40r

Since there are two unknowns, we need another equation in order to solve for x. We will use the fact that the train crosses a lamp post on the bridge in 15 seconds. This means that after the head of the train first crosses the lamp post, it takes 15 seconds for the train’s tail to cross the lamp post too. In other words, the train travels a distance equal to its body length in 15 seconds. So, we have:

x = 15r

Substitute x = 15r in the first equation and we have:

500 + 15r = 40r

500 = 25r

20 = r

So, we know the speed of the train is 20 m/s and its body length is x = 15r = 15(20) = 300 metres.

Answer: E

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