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Author Topic: Simon Brown, rail enthusiast, died on Gatwick Express train, 7 Aug 2016  (Read 20787 times)
Chris from Nailsea
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« on: August 09, 2016, 11:34:25 pm »

From the BBC:

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Train window death man Simon Brown 'was a railway fanatic'

A man killed when he apparently leaned from a train window and was hit on the head was a life-long railway fanatic who worked in the rail industry.

Simon Brown, from East Grinstead, West Sussex, died while travelling on the Gatwick Express in London on Sunday.

The 24-year-old first volunteered on the Bluebell Railway aged nine and was working as an engineering technician with Hitachi Rail Europe in Bristol.

Friend Reuben Smith said: "Railways were his life."

British Transport Police believe Mr Brown may have been leaning out of a train door window when he suffered a blow to the head.

Other passengers said he was looking out of the window when he was hit.

The incident happened at Wandsworth Common station at about 17:30 BST on Sunday, as the train was travelling to London Victoria from Gatwick Airport.

It has been reported to the Rail Accident Investigation Branch.

Mr Smith, a railway conductor who had known Mr Brown since the age of 12, has launched a fundraising page to help cover the costs of his friend's funeral.

Writing on the page, Mr Smith said: "Simon was a great friend of ours and a real light in the railway world. He was always smiling, cheerful and would bend over backwards to help anyone. There's now a massive hole in our close-knit community where he was. He has been taken from us at the age of 24 - it's far too young. Please donate. I want to help ease the burden of the cost of the funeral for his parents."

A transport police spokesman said: "The death is being treated as non-suspicious and the circumstances, including what caused the head injuries, are still being investigated."

Mr Brown's family have been informed of his death and a file is being prepared for the coroner.

A Gatwick Express spokesman said: "The emergency services attended the scene at Wandsworth Common station and, despite their best efforts, they were unable to save him. We send our condolences to his family. We are co-operating fully with British Transport Police and the Rail Accident Investigation Branch, who are investigating this incident."


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William Huskisson MP was the first person to be killed by a train while crossing the tracks, in 1830.  Many more have died in the same way since then.  Don't take a chance: stop, look, listen.

"Level crossings are safe, unless they are used in an unsafe manner."  Discuss.
Ralph Ayres
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« Reply #1 on: August 10, 2016, 09:18:52 am »

If he had as much railway experience as is being reported he would have been very aware of the risks involved in leaning out of a train window.  I would question the police assessment that his death was not suspicious.
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ChrisB
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« Reply #2 on: August 10, 2016, 09:38:36 am »

I wouldn't necessarily - GatEx windows don't open, do they? Not even the door windows normally - so he presumably used some railway equipment (hex key or similar?) to open it.
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chrisr_75
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« Reply #3 on: August 10, 2016, 10:06:15 am »

If he had as much railway experience as is being reported he would have been very aware of the risks involved in leaning out of a train window.  I would question the police assessment that his death was not suspicious.

I had a similar thought myself that he perhaps ought to have known better, but then we all make mistakes from time to time, sometimes the results are severe, other times we get away with it with a fright and learn from the experience or perhaps not even notice we stuffed up.

The Police presumably have full possession of sufficient information (probably including some pretty graphic on-train CCTV footage) to have made this call, and will also have to satisfy the coroner that there are no suspicious circumstances, so I would be curious to know what qualifies you to challenge their view on this.
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ChrisB
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« Reply #4 on: August 10, 2016, 10:16:44 am »

It has been reported that he was keen to know why the GatEx train was crawling/being delayed, so opened the window to look out at the signals. Over-keen fanatic forgetting his training?
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Oxonhutch
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« Reply #5 on: August 10, 2016, 10:27:17 am »

Unless he was hit by something seriously out of gauge, he would have to have leaned out a far way.  I seem to recall that an open carriage door (of the slam-door variety) should not foul a passing train or structure. An open carriage door on each train would be a different matter.  That said, an electric train can approach almost silently - especially from behind.
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paul7755
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« Reply #6 on: August 10, 2016, 11:00:31 am »

I wouldn't necessarily - GatEx windows don't open, do they? Not even the door windows normally - so he presumably used some railway equipment (hex key or similar?) to open it.

The normal passenger doors on the 442 need a key, but one of the guard's doors in the centre car, on the passageway side, is openable for dispatch purposes.  The other side is within the guards compartment.

Paul
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paul7755
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« Reply #7 on: August 10, 2016, 01:26:05 pm »

Unless he was hit by something seriously out of gauge, he would have to have leaned out a far way.  I seem to recall that an open carriage door (of the slam-door variety) should not foul a passing train or structure. An open carriage door on each train would be a different matter.  That said, an electric train can approach almost silently - especially from behind.

Just found a link to this in another forum, seems that clearances nowadays can be much, much less:

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Firstly, there is no such thing as a minimum clearance, except that it should be positive. Clearances may be described as 'Normal', 'Reduced' or 'Special Reduced', but this is simply to categorise the control regime that must be applied in order to preserve safe clearance. When GC/RT5212 was published (1983), it drew a distinction between clearances, tolerances, allowances and unknowns – clearance became the additional space requirement for unknowns once the other factors had been taken into account, and accordingly reduced considerably from previous values. This was done through
the introduction of a concept known as 'effective track position'. Once all 'knowns' are considered, clearances of greater than 100mm are considered normal, greater than 50mm are considered reduced and greater than 0mm are considered 'special reduced'.

Page 50 of:  http://www.rssb.co.uk/Library/groups-and-committees/2013-guide-vehicle-structure-sic-guide-to-british-gauging-t926.pdf
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stuving
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« Reply #8 on: August 10, 2016, 08:03:06 pm »

Just found a link to this in another forum, seems that clearances nowadays can be much, much less:

I think that gives a misleading impression. Most of the railway runs past and through fixed objects in exactly the same places they were 50 years ago, so at those points tracks are in the same positions and the trains must be much the same size too. Gauging is a notoriously tricky subject, but AIUI the change in gauging procedures was mainly one of methodology and terminology.

If you look in GC/RT5212, as well as those "normal" clearance values it also says:
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G1 Minimum upper sector clearances for new infrastructure

G1.1 Requirement for normal clearances
New infrastructure (as defined in section B3) shall be designed to provide at least normal clearances (as defined in section C2) to all types of rolling stock that use the route or can reasonably be foreseen to use the route. The required clearances shall be calculated in accordance with Part D of this
document.

G1.2 Additional clearances at vehicle window level
The following clearances shall be provided at the level of opening vehicle windows (normally between 2000 mm and 3000 mm above the plane of the rails):
a) 450 mm where vehicles operate with opening windows allowing passengers to lean out
b) 250 mm where vehicles operate with opening windows for the use of train crew.

GM/RT2456 requires passenger door windows that are capable of being opened (drop lights) to be locked so that they can only be opened manually by train crew. This requirement is to be implemented by 31 December 2005 for all vehicles that are intended to remain in passenger use after 31 December 2007.

In other words, these days trains with windows that open are the exception, and will only be able to run where these extra clearances are provided. However, one of the main post-war changes in vehicle designs has been softer (air) suspensions, which sway more and so have to be narrower (2.82 m for Mk I vs 2.62 m for Mk 3).

There is other information too. A while ago I was looking for a value for the spacing between platforms, and found this in GE/GN8573 "Guidance on Gauging":
Quote
10.2.2.12 The accepted distance between track centres in Britain is 3400 mm for straight track.
That was given as a commentary on the High-Speed Infrastructure TSI, which says:
Quote
The minimum nominal distance between track centres on upgraded lines in Great Britain shall be 3165 mm.

Using the standard nominal platform offset of 730 mm, you can work out that the width of an imaginary platform between tracks at those spacings is .505 or 270 mm - not enough for an open door. The difference between those two may be largely due to windows not now opening.

So if there never was enough clearance for an open door, there must have been quite a few occasions where one struck something and was ripped off, and quite likely went on to damage something else. So why do I not recall ever hearing about one, nor any consequent accident?
 
« Last Edit: August 31, 2016, 08:21:38 pm by stuving » Logged
TonyK
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« Reply #9 on: August 10, 2016, 08:28:44 pm »

This is a very sad turn of events, and a salutary reminder to take no chances with the railways.

I shall offer my normal view that accidents do not have a single cause. This unfortunate chap, if the events are as reported and he decided to lean out of a window, chose to disregard not only the usual signs above windows but also his safety training, both at the Bluebell Line and Hitachi. Had he done so at almost any other point along the line, it would have been of no consequence, but it was at a point where either infrastructure or another train was unusually close.

Doubtless, the RAIB will investigate and report on what happened, and maybe lessons will be learned - time will tell. My thoughts are with his family and girlfriend, who must wonder more than most how someone with such an extensive knowledge and experience of railways could come to grief in such a way.
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Now, please!
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« Reply #10 on: August 10, 2016, 09:11:24 pm »

From Metro newspaper http://metro.co.uk/2016/08/09/man-who-died-on-gatwick-express-tagged-in-picture-hanging-out-of-train-window-6057418/
Quote
The man who was killed while hanging out of the window of a Gatwick Express train was tagged in a Facebook post which shows he’d done it before.
Simon Brown, described as a life-long railway fanatic by friends, died while travelling on the Gatwick Express at Wandsworth Common station in south London on Sunday.

An image on his Facebook page shows the fatal accident wasn’t the first time he risked his life by hanging out of train windows.
The above picture, taken in 2011, shows Brown with his upper body dangling out of a fast-moving train, a 37255 on the Great Central Railway.
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chrisr_75
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« Reply #11 on: August 10, 2016, 09:41:31 pm »

Oh, one of those  Roll Eyes

Assuming metros journalistic skills can be trusted of course
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patch38
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« Reply #12 on: August 10, 2016, 10:45:55 pm »

Assuming metros journalistic skills can be trusted of course

I'd imagine in this case - given the circumstances and the potential insensitivity - it would have gone to the lawyers and the duty editor before getting to print.
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chrisr_75
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« Reply #13 on: August 11, 2016, 12:51:25 am »

Assuming metros journalistic skills can be trusted of course

I'd imagine in this case - given the circumstances and the potential insensitivity - it would have gone to the lawyers and the duty editor before getting to print.

In which case my comment stands! I cannot abide these people who think it is acceptable behaviour to hang as far out of a carriage window as is physically possible and shout the place down (I believe there is oft abuse of innocent passers by) in pursuit of 'thrash' or 'clag' and disturbing a train full of people who want to peacefully enjoy a rail tour or heritage line. I guess it's inevitable that a few will meet their end doing this sort of thing.
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TaplowGreen
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« Reply #14 on: August 11, 2016, 08:32:28 am »

.............a Darwin award nomination beckons............but RIP and condolences to nearest and dearest nonetheless.
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