Monday, 8 November 2010

Death on the tracks

My train to town was late this morning, by a full 40 minutes. I could tell something was wrong when instead of my train an earlier, semi-fast train to Warsaw ran through W-wa Jeziorki without stopping and then the next two trains heading south passed along the northbound platform (below). In the far, far distance, where the rails converge, I could see the lights of a stationary train, somewhere beyond W-wa Dawidy station.

There were no announcements from the level crossing gatekeeper, though it turned out he knew full well what had happened. My train arrived at quarter to ten. Below: on board the train to town, passing the flooded fields, sodden after five consecutive rainy days.

Jeziorki? Bagno, Panie!

We passed the stationary train - a double decker - which I assumed had broken down. Later, in the office, I posted an enquiry on the railway news group pl. misc.kolej, to discover it was not a breakdown, but a suicide.

A reply to my enquiry linked this clip from TVN Warszawa. It appears a 60 year-old man threw himself under the Radom-bound train some time before six am.

The TVN Warszawa reportage makes three interesting assertions. One is that the land between Jeziorki and the airport is 'some bog' ('jakieś bagna'). The second is that the police had 'great difficulty in arriving at the scene'. I am not surprised. Ul. Hołobcowa is one of the muddiest, pot-holed, most impassable streets in Warsaw. The third is the headline - "Death on the tracks near Piaseczno". Twaddle. It happened seven and half kilometers from Piaseczno, three from the airport, four from Ursynów. So the 'near' is a complete misnomer.

A suicide must be an awful experience for the train driver. At the instant the train hits a human being, the driver can do nothing; unlike the car driver than can at least attempt to swerve past. The psycholog-ical damage to the helpless train driver may linger for a long long time. Left: Coroner's photo-grapher snaps the scene of the suicide.


Ryszard Wasilewski said...

I have never given much thought to what kind of suicide I would choose for myself, but at a casual review of the options, public, or any other kind of transportation, would not be high on my list. However, those who do make that choice are likely telling the world: "Look! Look what you made me do!" I would assume that mostly not much consideration, or even thought, is given to that poor train driver involved, but the target must be society in general*. Hanging from a light fixture in the living room must be taken as a reproach to the family, flying airplanes into tall buildings a criticism of US policies, getting run over by bulldozers in Gaza is anti-Semitic, riding on a horse up Somosierra canyon is Polish longing for any kind of attention, slaughtering Christians in Iraqi churches is fast track to getting your hands on numerous virgins in Heaven, and assisted medical just being trendy. There's lots more, I'm sure.
* or PKP

Anonymous said...

What a miserable way to die: under a Radom-bound train... Not Orient Express, not Shinkansen, not even Lajkonik Intercity - just a random and dull osobowy do Radomia.

And revealing it is - it demonstrates clearly what suicide is about - unbearable necessity of being that makes you end it here, now, on a wet November day.

White Horse Pilgrim said...

Curiously railway suicides are not evenly distributed. One third of those in Britain happen on twenty miles of line between London and Slough. (Admittedly Slough, Southall, etc are pretty dismal - but not the worst places.)

And coincidentally my new assistant at work completed (as a student) a thesis on prevention of railway suicides. (I was tempted to suggest that it's easy: the railway company can sponsor that Swiss assisted suicide clinic.)