Tuesday, March 02, 2010

Saving them from themselves

Today a woman tragically died when she was crossing over train tracks. She did not use the pedestrian crossing. One train passed by and she ducked under the boom gates and did not notice a train coming the other way.

She made a terrible mistake which cost her her life.

But let me put forward this theory. People are now so protected by infrastructure, laws and rules, that they have lost the ability to look after themselves. I am not saying the infrastructure, laws and rules ought not be there, but at some point people must really take responsibility for their actions.

In the above case, the woman chose to ignore the infrastructure, laws and rules and do her own thing. I can understand this. How long before the next train arrives if she misses the train she was aiming to catch? But if you choose to ignore everything that is in place to protect you, then you really have take good care of yourself.

No doubt for decades people were crossing this railway line before any infrastructure was in place to protect them and no doubt many did it without incident. They simply looked left, looked right, no trains and crossed. It is not too hard for a pedestrian to see if there is a train coming.

The gates and rules are there to protect the stupid from themselves, drunks and kids who are not old enough to accurately asses risk. They are not to protect sensible people who are careful. Yet all the rules, the regulations and the infrastructure do not protect any of the aforementioned. They will just go around the gates.

Rather reminds me of the panic a year or so ago when a train travelled between stations with a door open. People were terrified of falling out. Yet, it is not so long ago that on a warm day older model trains would travel with all doors open, as did trams. I am sure there was on the odd occasion someone who fell out, but it was a very rare event. Now trains and trams cannot proceed unless the doors are closed and this causes a huge number of operational problems and delays.

Maybe the price is worth the safety value, but as the poor lady who was felled by a train today shows, you just cannot save people from themselves.


  1. Anonymous12:53 am

    I loved it when trams kept their doors open or when they didn't even have 'proper' doors - remember those blind-like things? I always wanted to sit by the open doors on the trams. Now, not only do the doors close but the windows, too! I hate that there's no fresh air anymore... Vik.

  2. Two primary school kids, a brother and sister, were killed at Williamstown North crossing in the same way, it was about eighteen years ago, the train that hit them was hidden behind another. A plaque memorial was placed for them on the Melbourne side of the station, there's always flowers on it.

  3. On the same day, we had someone killed my our light rail- MAX. She went under the drawn down barrier, & then tried to cross 4 sets of tracks. Crazy.

  4. When I walked in France I had to cross the occasional set of train tracks. There was a sign by the crossings that basically said- 'danger- one train might hide another'.
    When I was a child my father was a guard on the railways. We lived in a small town, and sometimes in our holidays, if they were only going as far as a nearby village to drop some wagons off, Dad would ring and we got a ride on the guard's van. It seemed to be the norm that the door was open, so he could get out and change points etc. He never worried that we would fall out. And I guess we just knew we had to act safely and not get too close. It did give the whole journey a sense of adventure though! It was great fun, and undoubtedly something that the 'health and safety' gurus today would never allow.

  5. Two or three years ago a lone police officer in a squad car drove around the booms behind a train that passed through and got killed by a train coming in the opposite direction. It was at the Ormond gates, North Road.

  6. There is a saying that I can come to believe in with all my heart.
    "You can't legislate against stupidity" With everything I have seen in the last 12 months, this is some respects has become my mantra.
    I feel sorry for the family, but I have no sympathy for the individual

  7. it ain't so, you're a hard heart, everyone slips up sometime.

    Not everyone is as smart as you.

  8. Yes, it was nice on a pleasant day Vik. Mind you, tram and train air recirculation is very good but yes, at times an open window would be nice.

    Always sad to hear of the likes of that RH.

    Stephen. I can't understand. They know they are taking a chance and so should be extra careful.

    Indeed KN, it would not be allowed now. Society has become so cautious. While I may not think it is such a good thing, I expect I would be very worried about my child falling out an open door now. The danger, one train may hide another is a simple but effective reminder.

    IAS, they certainly try to legislate against stupid acts, and the rest suffer because of it.

    RH, is it really smartness? I would have thought self preservation overcame most stupidity.

  9. Common sense is lacking these days, you can't protect people from themselves.
    Sad story however.

  10. Yep Fen, I don't think much more can be done.

  11. It is a very sad situation. I also feel very sorry for the train drivers, paramedics, police and passersby who will never forget it.

    I see a few dicing with trams quite regularly. Close enough to being hit for me to audibly gasp.

  12. LiD. I did not even give them a thought and of course you are right. It is amazing so few people get hit by trams. We usually hear about it if they do.

  13. Fuck them all, I have no sympathy whatsoever for any stupid cunt who walks/drives in front of a train in such circumstances.

  14. No doubt Andy they often cry, but I didn't see it coming.

  15. I see this all the time at two level crossings that I pass on the way to work. It makes me cringe to see people of all ages lift the gates and just walk on through. One guy two nights ago was doing just that AND he was talking on his mobile phone. Not 40 seconds later a Melbourne bound Geelong flyer came through... the guy did not look, he just kept on talking to whoever it was.
    I was thinking about it layer.. what if I was the one on the other end of that mobile call? What a bloody frightening thing to hear commotion of someone being hit..hmm

  16. Mobiles are very bad in such situations Cazzie. People just become completely unaware of what is going on around them.