Man electrocuted by third rail at Haymarket

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Postby trigonalmayhem » Mon Aug 30, 2004 12:29 am

Of course it was idiotic, but I didn't get the impression from the article that anyone was going to sue anyone.

And it's really kind of rude to make remarks about 'laughing at' someone who died, even if it was out of stupidity.
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Postby Robert Paniagua » Mon Aug 30, 2004 6:09 am

And it's really kind of rude to make remarks about 'laughing at' someone who died, even if it was out of stupidity.

You're right, death is always no fun, and I just wanna remind everybody here to keep this "topique" civil. Thanx for your cooperation.
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the story as covered in NZ

Postby David Benton » Mon Aug 30, 2004 6:43 am

http://www.nzherald.co.nz/storydisplay. ... on=general

http://www.stuff.co.nz/stuff/0,2106,3018664a11,00.html

We do have Electric trains but its all overhead Cantenary ( 25 000 volts a.c . or 1500 volts d.c ). i note he's from Auckland , which has no electric trains , and the suburb of Howick , which has no trains at all . however i would say Most New Zealander's are familiar with the concept of the third rail Electrification , if only from tv / movie coverage of systems such as the New York subway , or london Underground for example .

Still no excuse for what was a very stupid act . sounds like a spur of the moment drunken act , without thinking of the conseqeunces .

They would not even think of sueing the operator in NZ , so i doubt they would try it in the USA , unless encouraged by a lawyer .
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Postby MBTA F40PH-2C 1050 » Mon Aug 30, 2004 7:26 am

was he drunk? because didn't he come from a bar with his friend?
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I sure HOPE no U.S. lawyer contacts the family, because

Postby Silverliner II » Mon Aug 30, 2004 8:43 am

Sometime back in the mid-1990's, a man (who happened to be drunk) climbed a barrier gate at a grade crossing on one of the CTA elevated lines in Chicago (two of their lines, Evanston and Ravenswood, have ground-level trackage with grade crossings protected by swinging fences that block the track area when no trains are approaching).

He then proceeded to urinate, in the process coming in contact with the third rail, and was electrocuted. His family sued the CTA. Despite the clearly marked warnings and the fence blocking access to the track area, a jury sided with the family and CTA was ordered to pay them a few million.

CTA, of course appealed the decision. And I do believe they lost the appeal as well. I'm not sure how much further things have gotten in that case....

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Postby BC Eagle » Mon Aug 30, 2004 9:01 am

Two Questions:

1) Is there even an easy method of getting out of the right of way? Are there ladders or anything similar to make a quick exit possible from the tracks to the platform in the event of an approaching train.

2) Is there any documentation of the man getting electrocuted by urinating on the third rail? I've always heard that the possibility of such an event was only urban legend.
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Postby MBTA1 » Mon Aug 30, 2004 9:06 am

To answer question 1... At the ends of each heavy-rail platform their are ladders.
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Postby trigonalmayhem » Mon Aug 30, 2004 9:19 am

Now I'm curious about the CTA story, because if they have grade crossings with 3rd rail .... how does that work??
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Postby efin98 » Mon Aug 30, 2004 9:25 am

BC Eagle wrote:Two Questions:

1) Is there even an easy method of getting out of the right of way? Are there ladders or anything similar to make a quick exit possible from the tracks to the platform in the event of an approaching train.


yes there are, at the end of every platform and undentations in the walls of the tunnels and possible space under the platforms.

2) Is there any documentation of the man getting electrocuted by urinating on the third rail? I've always heard that the possibility of such an event was only urban legend.


There are conflicting reports, but the one most referenced is a legend(freak accident involving urination at one point, but not on the third rail). However I did read on SubTalk one report of an actual case in New York where someone did actually die from urination on the third rail- documented by the medical examiner in Manhatten in a medical museum down there(can't remember the exact reference, but should still be in the archives in New York City).
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Postby David Benton » Mon Aug 30, 2004 3:21 pm

water is a good conductor of electricity , so yes it is possible to be electrocuted by urinating on a power source . it would depend on the voltage of the source , and the distance away from it you are . The higher the voltage the more likely you are to get a shock .
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Postby Robert Paniagua » Mon Aug 30, 2004 7:32 pm

Now I'm curious about the CTA story, because if they have grade crossings with 3rd rail .... how does that work??

Well, that's nothing new. NYCT DID have a Railroad Grade Crossing Approaching Rockaway Parkway on the L Line, but that was closed off decades ago.

I rode on the Ravenswood Extension (Line 5) with my father back in 1991 when our train proceeded with railroad crossing. Before the train could go through, the gates would lower, and then the CTA L train would then proceed slowly at no more than 14.9 mph through the crossing, and yes, ther can be a gap in the third rail with railroad crossings, heck, I even see the MBTA Red Line surface portions especially between Quincy Adams and Quincy Center, there's a vehicular access (MBTA Maintenance only) from one of the overpases where the tracks are somewhat paved only showing the rails, and the third rail gap exists there. At Savin Hill there's temporary pavement over the trackage and a huge break in the third rail long enough to be an automobile traffic grade crossing, which subway trains can still survice with such third rail gap.
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Postby trigonalmayhem » Mon Aug 30, 2004 8:12 pm

What I'm curious about, though is safety issues.

The gap can be no longer than the furthest set of paddles on each train, right? So then you can get enough room for cars to pass by, but what's stopping a person from wandering a little bit down the tracks and zapping themselves?

It just seems that without it being off in a pit it's a lot easier for children or the homeless to wander into. Or even animals.
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Postby McTed » Tue Aug 31, 2004 12:33 pm

Rail gaps are generally set no larger then the distance between the #1 truck and # 2 truck Third rail shoe paddles. But in some situations like coming out of or going into a station where sometimes there a bit larger due to a number of different reasons such a signal or switching issues. As for the area between 2 sets of running rails or tracks is known as the Dummy area and should never be fouled by anybody unless proper Right of Way safety protections are put in place.


As for urinating on the third rail its not the 600volts you have to worry about, it’s the gross amount of amperage it capable of producing. Let’s give this some thought; I’m not going to do the math but here’s some rough figures. A shoe fuse is set depending on the vehicle 900-1200 amps and they are in parallel. The MBTA runs the trains in four or six car consist and depending on the time of day and line 60 to 180 cars in service during a rush hour and finally of course roughly 1000 commuters in a packed six-car train over a million people a day. After taking all this into consideration knowing only half a milliamp can stop the human heart I would not trust anybodies theory about urinating on the third rail. Remember in the railroad industry there is no such thing as a safe rail.

But as far as the MythBusters on the discovery channel they did not bring the third rail they were testing up to the kind of amperage the MBTA uses.

MythBusters: Third Rail
This was an old one, but it had one interesting segment: peeing on the third rail. Adam cast a mannequin out of the ballistics gel they always break out and gave it a bladder full of urine. He also measured the rate of his own urination in order to choose an appropriate tube to create the urine stream.
They then charged up a third rail and set the urine stream loose with the dramatic result of... *drum beat* ... absolutely nothing. Turns out that the urine stream breaks up too much by the time it reaches the rail that the charge cannot follow the urine upstream. They tried increasing the stream size, and still nothing. In the end, they showed that you can get electricity to travel up the urine, but only if you were really close to the rail.
So kids, when you pee on the third rail, make sure you don't kneel down next to the rail.

http://kwc.org/blog/archives/2004/2004- ... _rail.html
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Speaking of gaps in the third rail

Postby Silverliner II » Fri Sep 03, 2004 7:09 am

Metro-North operates third-rail MU's on the Harlem Line with grade crossings between North White Plains and Southeast. The trains simply coast through the gaps like any other third rail operation.

I did mention above that there are gates that block track access on those Chicago "L" grade crossings. Even if the guy didn't get killed while urinating, he probably did come in contact with the third rail at some point....

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Postby parovozis » Sat Sep 11, 2004 9:15 pm

Tonight I saw freshly installed sings at the track-facing edges of all RL Park Street platforms. The signs are installed every 15 feet or so and read: "Danger! No trespassing. Third rail. Oddly enough, if they get another New Zealander, he would be as clueless about the third rail as the first one was. The T rather mention High voltage instead of Third rail.
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