I’ve been too busy for the past week to post this blurb, but I didn’t want to let it slip away. I saw the article When Death Rides The Rails on the cover of the Sunday Magazine section of the Chicago Tribute and thought I should read it. However, I didn’t get to any of that Sunday’s paper. Jon Roma reminded me of it last Monday and said I should read it.

The article was about people being killed by trains, and specifically suicides. It also went into a lot of detail about how it impacts the conductors and engineers who have to deal with these tragedies.

I read it online (via my hiptop) on the train. After reading the article, I think anyone who commutes via train should read it. What really brought it home for me, is that many of the conductors that they interviewed were from the Milwaukee District West Line, which is the train I take to get downtown to work.

A couple of things I found interesting from the article:

  • A train hits someone every two hours in the U.S.
  • 16 people have died on metra lines so far this year, 9 were suicides or “suspicious”
  • In 2003, 507 people nationwide were killed by trains. They don’t record self-inflicted death in this tally, so how many are suicides are unknown
  • 14 people have committed suicide by jumping in front of CTA trains or being electrocuted by the third rail since 2000

But those are just the numbers. As I said above, the agony that the people who work on the train go through in one of these events is scary and something that I’ve never though of before. Not only do the conductors have to put up with all the commuters being jerks when being delayed, but then they have to deal with the mental aftermath of seeing a mutilated body. Also, I can’t even imagine how the engineers get over the suiciders looking them in the eyes. Scary stuff.

In any case, I’m a laid back guy, but I still get upset when the train is delayed, especially on the way home. I don’t ever complain, because what are you going to do? However, I will certainly be more understanding in the future.

[Update 8/19/2010: Looks like the Tribune moved the article.]