Japan passengers tip train to save woman in "gap" - would you?

After a woman slipped into the eight-inch gap between the platform and a train car, passengers in Japan successfully pushed the train back, and the woman was rescued without any serious injuries.

About 40 people reportedly helped rail staffers who were pushing the car once they heard an announcement about the trapped passenger.


The AP photo by Norihiro Shigeta of the Yomiuri Shimbun newspaper accompanying this post is amazing.

Passengers and rail staff push a Japanese rail car off a trapped passenger. (AP Photo/Norihiro Shigeta, Yomiuri Shimbun)

Passengers and rail staff push a Japanese rail car off a trapped passenger. (AP Photo/Norihiro Shigeta, Yomiuri Shimbun)

It begs the question – would CTA passengers do the same thing? I would say yes, probably. Though it’s highly improbable that someone could slip into the very narrow gap between CTA cars and the platform.


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  • They may try to pull someone out of the gap or get the operator's attention, but they sure aren't going to push the train cars. Let the CFD do its job.

  • CTA has only a few platforms where it could happen. They would be the ones where the train is on the inside of a curved platform & a gap develops.
    There are also very rare times when the platforms here get as crowded as in Japan.
    There is the gap between cars, but at least the CTA brought back the springs between cars at the platform edges. There used to be springs there, but they were removed sometime in the 1970s & didn't return for at about 20 years.

  • Sure, I don't see why we wouldn't help a passenger.

    I helped a gentleman that had stepped into the gap between the car and the platform at the inbound Merchandise Mart stop. He was standing next to the door, and I was next to him looking down. As the door opened, I noticed the six to eight inch gap. He was standing with his back to the door, and he stepped back into the gap, and down he went. As he fell I tried to grab him under the arms to hold him up. I knew he wasn't going to fall through the small gap, but I was concerned that he would twist his other leg, and possibly break an ankle or strain/tear a ligament. With the help of a person on the platform, we lifted him out of the gap.

    It's amazing how fast a person falls. Also, lifting dead weight is tough.

    We were *not* on a curve, so I know it's possible to have gaps between the cars and the platform.

  • In answer to the question - yes. I would probably be asking/telling others to assist to get the person out of harm's way. Kudos to SpinyNorman and the other person on the platform that went to assist immediately - they probably prevented both an injury and a delayed train.

    I've previously jogged up and yanked a person by the back of their shirt who was standing either distracted or frozen from getting run over by the rear tires of a trailer truck at a street corner.

    The point is, being in an emergency situation, the "first responder" is the person or people who are there and take the responsibility to assist others. Waiting for "someone else" to act or "someone else" to call for help makes a potentially dangerous situation definitely dangerous.

    There's even recent CTA incidents where if the person next to them acted (even verbally) that injuries or death could have been prvented.

  • In reply to JohnT:

    I don't know. For instance, the twin brother of the guy who was electrocuted at Howard almost got electrocuted himself. I'm not jumping down there, but certainly would look for the CA button.

  • In reply to jack:

    I probably wouldn't jump down either. From reports, he stepped backwards, falling backwards, as a crowd of people passed. IF someone next to him noticed the potential danger, even being pulled back and falling on the platform would have been better than what happened,

    And I'm also hoping that someone immediately dialed 911 and knew they were at Howard station. I would imagine a quick description of the situation and the 911 operator hearing the frantic screams in the backround would/should have some very quick standard responses for cutting rail power in that area.

    Of course not being there, we don't know what happened in those first few minutes/seconds. But the chance to review "What would we do?" is a worthwhile excercise that may be useful in the future.

  • In reply to JohnT:

    Another factor is that the third rail is not adjacent to the platform. Thus, he would have had to been pushed about 9 feet (although if he landed flat, it depends on how tall he was).

    I still think that hitting the CA button would have brought the fastest response. 911 would have to at least call CTA to pull the power, or maybe send it to the fire department, to then call CTA.

  • Well, many's the time I've seen passers-by, without being asked, push someone's car to help get traction out of a snowdrift. That little bit of energy can make the difference. I've done it; I've had it done for me.

    The thing about unexpected emergencies is it can be hard to get your head around what is happening and know how to act. If it was clear (amidst all the panic and "what the?") that I could help by pushing, and there was room for me to do so, and I could be reasonably sure of making a difference without injury, then, yeah. Even though I'm not the strongest person around.

    (With apologies, Kevin, I must throw a flag for incorrect use of "beg the question." Nothing personal.)

  • In reply to CCWriter:

    CC, thanks for correcting me on the incorrect usage of "begs the question." As I've mentioned a few times, we could all use an editor, and certainly that includes me!

    And good point about it being hard in an emergency to "get your head around what is happening and know how to act."

  • In reply to Kevin O’Neil:

    Thanks for being a good sport, Kevin.

    I would add that in emergencies, sometimes we are fooled because there aren't musical cues like on TV or in the movies to highlight the drama. Or there's no clock to tell us it's 47 minutes into the hour program, which means it's crisis time.

  • I'm actually surprised that more people don't fall on the tracks. I stay away from the edge, but I'm shocked at how carelessly close to the platform edge some people stand.

    In addition, there are numerous platforms that have dangerously narrow walkways. I use the LaSalle St station daily, and the platform is less than 3 feet wide near the assistant's cage. There are often numerous people standing in this area, so walking pass them requires one to skirt the edge. Also, the people standing are often wrapped in their own little world, and oblivious to the fact that people are trying to walk past them.

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