I went to Canada 5 years ago and lived there for 4 years. Before that I had lived and worked in London since being a student in the mid-80′s. During the entire time, and in the year since I have been back, I have commuted on the tube. I don’t use it quite as regularly as I did, but I now travel on it 3 out of 5 days in a given week.
On a couple of my first journeys in London after being back from Canada I was delayed because of a “person under a train”. I can’t remember having heard that for a very long time and other than the obvious contradictory thoughts of, “how awful, I hope they are OK” and “I’m annoyed they have made me late”, I didn’t think much more of it.
However since then I have noticed with increasing regularity that the reason for delays seems to be more people under trains. About two months ago I started counting the number of trips that I was delayed for a “person under a train”. Since a journey to London Bridge on September 16th I have been delayed no fewer than 7 times where that has been publicly announced as the reason.
I think that is a very high number.
What I can’t quite work out is whether these incidents are accidents, attempts at suicide or a creative form of excuse used cynically by the tube. If they are accidents, then I am surprised that the zealous health and safety executive hasn’t jumped in because I can’t be the first person to notice. If they are suicides, then there appears to be a remarkable increase in this grisly and inconvenient choice of means and if they are an excuse, then it is a clever and dastardly consiparcy – after all, who is going to complain about a delay caused by rescuing someone from under a train?
I’m going to keep looking for statistics to see whether there has been a sudden spike in suicide deaths on the tube commensurate with the indidence of “person under train” announcements that I am now morbidly counting. As far as I can tell London Underground does not publish publicly the safety statistics for the network.
I’m not quite at the point of crying conspiracy, especially as the human and long time tube traveller in me can quite understand the thought of killing oneself, and especially not in such a public, unreliable and disruptive way. I can’t help thinking that if I was at the point of taking my own life I would not go and buy a ticket at a station and stand amongst the silent commuting throng waiting for the next Southbound Charing Cross train. But then…