The following passage comes from a high school physics textbook, in a chapter about special relativity and length contraction. Specifically, an example was given about a train travelling at relativistic speeds passing a stationary observer, and the fact that a stationary observer would measure the train to be shorter than it actually is (its 'proper length'), due to length contraction.
The effects of length contraction would not be 'seen' in a real-world sense. If you were to watch the relativistic train used in this example as it approaches, the light reflecting off each end of the train would reach you at different times; as the speed of light is finite, the light travelling from the front of the train would reach you before that reflecting off the back of the train. This causes an optical aberration, distorting the image. As the train is moving towards you it will appear elongated or stretched; while it moves away it will seem to be squished.
I understand that, because the speed of light is finite, the light from the front and back of the train would reach the observer at different times. I also understand how this would lead to the object appearing elongated or squished as it moves towards or away from you. But does this fact alone mean that length contraction is never actually seen? From my understanding, the whole concept of relativity comes from the fact that the speed of light is finite (and that it's measured the same in all frames of reference), because if the speed of light was infinite then none of the 'light clock' thought experiments would work, and neither would Einstein's thought experiment where he is in a train travelling away from a clock.
Since the finiteness of the speed of light is critical to all these thought experiments working, it seems to me that the finiteness of the speed of light cannot cause length contraction to not work.
So, my question is, can length contraction actually happen and be seen in the real world in the way described by the equations? If not, is it because of the phenomenon mentioned in the above passage?
Thanks in advance.