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Never Do This--"Woman Killed While Leaning Out Of A Train Window"

Just a warning. A woman was killed while leaning out of the train window from Bath to Bristol:

As tempting as it is to get a photo of whatever you are passing--be it a castle, countryside, village, whatever--don't lean out of the train window.
"The RAIB said that a yellow "Caution" label above the door said: "Do not lean out of window when train is moving."
Very tragic, but a warning to obey the signs on the trains and exercise extra caution when riding or boarding trains.

Posted by
6272 posts

Oh my word....poor woman but moreso...feel so bad for the train staff who had to deal with this.

Posted by
2270 posts

Yes, very very tragic. My heart goes out to her family, and as you say Pam, to the train staff who had to clean up.
You think things can't happen like this......but maybe by posting this, one of our travelers will not lean out for one photo and get whacked.

Posted by
4698 posts

What does one take a picture of (is that what she was doing?) at 10PM from a train going 80+MPH that requires hanging out of a window?

If not taking a photo.... what??

Truly tragic.... and mystifying

Posted by
4129 posts

There are increasingly fewer trains of this type left, where a window needs to be opened to use the only handle attached to the outside. Indeed they will be gone completely from the line in question later this year.

Posted by
4865 posts

I believe she felt sick and was hit by a tree branch.
This route is the only one that I travel on that still has the push down windows that you can even open on the train On most trains you wouldn't be able to stick your head out of the window if you wanted to.

Posted by
2270 posts

Emma, I'm sure you are right. She was probably being sick.
Joe, that late at night, I'm sure she was not taking a photo.
I was addressing the most likely scenario in which a tourist would lean out of a train window (in the daytime, obviously), as a warning not to do that.
The article states that the girl had been to the Christmas markets in Bath with friends and was returning home to Bristol later that evening, leading to the situation Emma mentioned.

Posted by
30049 posts

This was truly a very tragic event. My thoughts & prayers are with her family and friends. This is a good reminder that leaning out of train windows is not a good idea. I expect authorities might adopt measures to prevent this in future, such as by bolting the windows shut.

I expect authorities might adopt measures to prevent this in future,
such as by bolting the windows shut.

To reassure you all, most trains do not have this sort of window. Indeed most of the newer trains are air conditioned with non-opening windows.

There a few older trains where there is one window that opens, and it’s on the door. You need to push the window down in order to access the door handle on the outside (because obviously an inside door handle would be even more dangerous).

However again to reassure any jittery travellers, most new trains have electronic doors & you simply have to press a button (inside) to open them.

Posted by
21625 posts

I've been thinking for some time about the best way to respond to this.

Those of you who have been around here for a while probably know this, but for the benefit of those new folk, my work history for the last many years has been on and around major railways and trains, both here in England and the US, and before that on short lines and preserved railways here and in the US.

I have been over, under, and in many different types and vintages of train and train carriages. I have, unfortunately, had many run-ins with drunk people, sports fans, and a few people who for various reasons wound up badly maimed or dead on and under trains.

I have also known - never counted them - probably millions over the years - of passengers and staff who safely ride trains every day and the worse they get is when their neighbour across the table from them accidentally kicks their shin and they get a bruise.

Trains are extremely safe, an extremely comfortable way of taking lots of people a long way in complete safety. 1,700,000,000 - (that's 1.7 billion) journeys were made on trains in the UK in 2016-17. There were 66 billion passenger kilometres. The were 15 passenger fatalities during that time, 7 of which were in one very unfortunate tram accident in Croydon, and 1 workforce fatality in that time. So with regard to train passengers that is something like 1 fatality in every 212.5 million journeys. Pretty safe, I'd say.

But as safe as that is, people have to remember how big and dangerous trains are if not respected and warnings heeded.

I think a reminder to take the signs seriously every once in a while is good. Remain behind the yellow line on a platform is a good one - they weren't pained there by aspiring Rembrandts. You would not expect the strength of wind kicked up by a 125 mph train passing a metre away from you as it passes through a station. That's why we tell you.

And the other warnings like keep your head in (still very valid more than the UK in continental Europe), don't put your fingers in the window hopper, don't throw bottles out the window, wait for the train to stop before opening the door, don't get off the train on the wrong side, don't flush the cat down the toilet, don't step on the Third Rail (or any rail for that matter) - these are all (yes all) recent or current signs on the trains. They are there for a reason.

An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.

As I say, I speak from personal experience. A good friend of mine was killed many years ago when switching freight trains in a yard in California. He had worked on the railroad for over 20 years. He looked the wrong way once and was gone.

Read the signs, obey the signs.

And I will say that in the vast majority of cases, not all, and not my friend, alcohol and now drugs plays a great role. You wouldn't believe some of the things I have seen when drunks and trains are near each other.

I've never seen anybody open a moving train window to be sick. It is usually the lap of their friend or nearby passenger or the floor or doorway if they don't decide to use a toilet.

Bottom line - come to England. Ride the trains. Read the warning signs. Be safe.

Posted by
913 posts

Thanks, Nigel. I particularly like the reminder to not flush the cat down the toilet!

Posted by
4698 posts

don't flush the cat down the toilet,

Nigel -- Is that for real, or did you put that in there to see if we were reading the entire post?

I suspect its the former, just like the requirement ( in the US, anyway), that hairdryers have a warning label 'do not use in shower'.

Through expensive litigation, manufacturers have learned not to underestimate the stupidity/creativity of the consumer.

Posted by
2270 posts

Thank you, Nigel. Words of wisdom, and lots of good information.
We have always enjoyed riding the trains in England, knowing we are much safer than when we are at home driving in our own car in the U.S. We love riding the trains. It is a huge part of our enjoyment of our trip to England. We are very careful to obey all signs and rules when around the trains.