How many people have died because of 'third rail electrocution?
With snow piled up on the rail many workers used to have to get out and shovel the rails clear. They would have to cut the 650 volt DC power to prevent accidental injury or death to the workers. Now they have other methods of snow removal, but that made me wonder if these kids today are aware of the danger from the third rail.
James H! snow is not a good insulator and can hide the rail under the protection board wher it can be touched by a steel wet handled shovel. a dog peed on the rail and somehow yelled away, the stream must have broken?
- 1 decade agoFavorite Answer
The workers know pretty well about safety and hazards of the third rail; its part of their initial job training.
Kids, on the other hand, are a different story. I was born and raised in the city of New York and when I was growing up I learned about the dangers of the third rail was by simply observing it. I remember watching subway trains go by and noticing the very large sparks the third rail sometimes emitted when a train went by. I knew therefore that it would be a very bad idea to go near the third rail, let alone the tracks. But unfortunately some kids and teens don't learn. Even when they do know about the dangers, they are in denial that something bad will happen to them and next thing you know, they are either dead or on a one way ticket to the hospital.
Same goes for some Adults. They are late to work or just don't have patience and they see their train on the opposite platform. Instead of taking the walkway over to the other platform, they climb down on the tracks and try to make it to the other side this way. Well sometimes because they are in such a rush to make it to the other side, they are not cautious of the tracks so they trip or slip and their body comes somehow in contact with the third rail. Its a shame.
I don't have a source for this, but I would say its somewhere in the neighborhood of 2-13 people a year just from the third rail in just the NYC Subways. Now the national average is higher. I also think third rail casualties and fatalities cause for about 10% of all electrified trains.
I should start giving stars for safety questions too. Here's yours.
- DeborahLv 44 years ago
If she were not grounded at some point, she could have lived. But as the electricity travels through the body, the rhythm of the heart is changed or even stopped. Voltage does not kill, amperage does. But it takes both to get through the skin into the conductive flesh. There is a pipe heating system in the plant where I work that has only 18v but 10,000 amps. You can touch the wire and your skin will protect you. But if you have a cut, then your skin no longer can keep the electricity out and you'd get fried. Trains take many amps to power the very large motors, so death would be almost instant if someone were to touch a third rail.
- James HLv 51 decade ago
Snow is an insulator, and most lines require insulated work boots. Also, a third rail shock is not necessarily fatal. There are examples of people surviving getting shocked.
(I'M NOT SUGGESTING YOU DO THIS)
It's possible to come in contact with the third rail and not get shocked. If one stands on an insulated object, such as neoprene mat, or balances both feet on the third rail, you will not get hurt. If you can't complete the circuit to ground, the current won't shock you.
(I'M NOT SUGGESTING YOU DO THIS)
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- Fast RegLv 51 decade ago
Electrocution from the 3rd rail is not actually the biggest risk. Being struck by a train kills far more people than the electrification system.
To put some numbers on it...
The figures for UK rail deaths in 2008 records the total number of fatalities being 279. Included in this total were 62 accidental deaths of which 47 were directly attributable to trepass. Six of these trespassers were killed by electrocution, although the statistics do not record how many were killed by the 750V DC 3rd rail electrification and how many by the more prevalent 25kV AC overhead power line system. In addition to these six, one non-trespass fatality was recorded as being the result of electrocution, but this is specifically cited as being from the overhead power line system (a bridge examiner who allowed his metal tape measure to come in contact with the power line).
Out of the total of 62 accidental deaths, 7 were killed by electrocution, 2 fell from bridges, 2 died as a consequence of jumping or falling either from a height or from a moving train, while the remaining 51 were all killed by as a consequence of being struck by trains.
No members of the railway workforce died as a result of electrocution.
- Anonymous1 decade ago
650 DC and just enough potential to leap out at your wet pant leg cuff as you walk near it down the rail road yard. We had more injury from moving trains coming and going at the multi track crossings than actual electrocution, However that does not diminish the danger from being careless around it. Even when a train has jumpers to bring the motor current even along the whole train,, the cast iron shoes on the insulated shoe beam that ride and make contact to the third rail, arc and shoot sparks as an arc welder would do when they leave the rail to make contact with the rail ahead.
- mer_359Lv 51 decade ago
not too long ago a woman in Boston fell onto the 3rd rail and was electrocuted...very very sad
- Anonymous1 decade ago
There have been a few, I'm sure.