In the good old days
One of the persistent myths is that in the “good old days”, before trains and trams had locked doors, nobody ever fell out.
When the old VR ran the suburban network trains, and stations were manned and had barrier gates, trains had a lot of doors and it was never a problem. Nobody fell out either, people were RESPONSIBLE for their actions way back then.
This is patently untrue.
A search of the National Library’s “Trove” archive of newspapers for train fell out finds scores of cases from around Australia, some fatal, some causing only minor injuries, some adults, some little kids.
FALL FROM TRAIN.
Man Sustains Concussion.
Thomas M. Hassett, aged 51 years, of Holt street, Richmond, fell out of a train near Werribee on Saturday morning, while leaning out of a door. The train was immediately stopped, and the train crew ran back to where Hassett was lying on the side of the line. He was placed on the train and taken to the Spencer street station. An ambulance then transferred him to the Melbourne Hospital, where he was admitted with concussion and several broken ribs.
A search for tram fell out also finds many cases.
The Brisbane tramway museum has a page about fatal tram accidents; they found a register of what appears to be all of them from Brisbane’s tramway history, from 1897 to 1969 (a few years after trams had been converted to buses).
Their attempted categorisation of the data (it’s not easy to do apparently) concluded that amongst 509 deaths over 70-odd years, 64 were due to “Falls from moving trams”, 59 were from “Alighting from moving trams”, and 25 “Boarding moving trams”.
(The biggest categories were “Collisions with motor vehicles” 110 and “Pedestrians knocked down” 118.)
Many of us fondly remember summer days, riding in trams and trains with the doors and windows open, the cool air blowing through. Many of us fondly remember stepping out onto the running board of trams, jumping off before the tram had come to a stop.
(Less pleasantly, I recall as late as about 1995, riding a V/Line H-set on the Ballarat line, and people kept leaving the double-doors open, leaving a huge gaping doorway that anybody could have easily fallen out of if the train had been moderately crowded.)
Sure, there’s nostalgia. But the reality is there were accidents, people were injured or killed, and the quest for better safety is a worthy one.