From the BBC, a couple of weeks ago:
Three men have died after being struck by a train near a south London station.
It is understood that spray cans were found near the bodies of the men, who are believed to be in their 20s.
Police were called to Loughborough Junction station, near Brixton, at about 07:30 BST and the three were pronounced dead at the scene.
The deaths are being treated as “unexplained” and police are investigating how the men came to be on the tracks.
Unexplained? Well, they were struck by a train which is normally fatal and as a minimum rather detrimental to ones health. As to why they were on the tracks? Well, it’s a real mystery, isn’t it? Perhaps these three men had spotted some rust on a piece of vital equipment and, good Samaritans that they were, had headed out in the dead of night with some Hammerite. Or – and I’m just throwing this out there – they were adding to the graffiti which adorns every flat vertical surface within ten metres of a railway line seemingly everywhere in the world save Singapore. At which point my sympathy disappear in a puff of smoke, along with that of most Twitter users who remarked on the story. However, as reader Rob Harries points out, there’s always a lefty journalist who can’t help but wring their hands in a public display of virtue signalling:
Predictably, when someone tries to explain that the driver might not have been aware he’d hit anyone:
I’ve recently been accused of being an old fashioned type and maybe this is an example of it, but I think prominent women would be taken more seriously on the internet if they didn’t say things like this in the middle of an adult conversation.
Anyway, back to the BBC article:
It is believed the victims could have been struck overnight, when freight trains use the rail network more frequently as the passenger pathways are clear.
Speaking about the spot where the bodies were found, Supt Allingham said there “isn’t a sort of safe refuge up there, so if somebody was on those tracks there wouldn’t be anywhere for them to go to avoid the train”.
“If they’ve been caught in that section of track when a train came through then they really wouldn’t have had much options,” he added.
The deceased men might have been smart enough to check the passenger train timetables before wandering around on the track, but that wouldn’t save them from freight or unscheduled trains. The bottom line is railway tracks are horrendously dangerous places to be standing about in, and this is easily realised by standing on the platform of a small station through which intercity trains pass without stopping. It’s not just the speed as it rushes past; when watching it approach, try to work out which line it’s going to take through the station. Often you can’t tell until it’s flying past you, seemingly choosing its track at the last second. If you’re wandering around on a set of tracks and you see a high-speed train approaching, how do you know which line to stand in safely? You don’t, of course.
The incident reminded me of a tragic accident which occurred back in 2002 (emphasis mine):
A railway worker from south Wales was knocked down and killed by a 90mph train after accidentally stepping into the wrong line.
Colleagues of the 22-year-old man – who was from the Rhondda valley – watched in horror as the high-speed Silverlink train mowed down the 27-year-old man, killing him instantly.
The shocked driver of the Euston to Birmingham train has told investigators that the Balfour Beatty sub-contractor stepped onto the track as he approached the team of engineers – and he was powerless to avoid him.
Two other tracks which the sub-contractors were working on when the tragedy happened, had been closed to all trains.
However, the slow tracks alongside the closed lines were still open to all trains and it is believed the contractor strayed off his track into the path of the train.
Railways workers need to be very sure which tracks are “open” and which are closed, and this wasn’t the only incident of its kind around that time. Two years earlier some poor student was sent onto the tracks without proper training or supervision (again on behalf of Balfour Beatty), with tragic results:
A student who died after being hit by a train while working part-time for a railway maintenance sub-contractor was “unlawfully killed”, an inquest jury has decided.
Michael Mungovan, 21, was working without qualified supervision near Vauxhall station in south London on 9 October, 2000, Southwark Coroner’s Court was told.
His family blamed a lack of training for his death and police have confirmed they will reopen the criminal investigation.
Mr Mungovan began the job three days earlier, a post he was given by employment agency McGinley Recruitment Services.
Mr Mungovan was part of a two-man team securing a section of track for maintenance on one of the busiest lines in the country.
As he walked between two live rails, he was hit from behind by a train travelling at 50mph while walking up the wrong line, and died instantly.
Going onto the tracks is dangerous enough for railway workers, so for members of the public to do so is insane. Regardless of whether the men in the first story were up to no good, they were in grave danger the moment they decided to go onto the railway tracks. At their age, and with the number of warning signs, they only have themselves to blame. Stay off the tracks, people.