There was a fatality at Gatwick airport railway station last night. A man was hit by a train at 4.45 pm. You can imagine the disruption it caused, it affected thousands of people just at home time. All trains stopped whilst the power was turned off. People were apparently stranded on trains halted midway between stations and station platforms were heaving with people trying to decide alternative ways home. To make matters worse the rain was coming down as though it was the monsoon season. It occurred to me that it was probably more apt weather for such a tragedy although awful for the rescue crews to work in.
I was fortunate, someone in the office had not left and phoned me at the station offering me a lift home. I was only 20 minutes later home this usual but I understand the trains were still running up to 2 hours late well into the evening.
I was told this morning, by a work colleague, that this incident was caused by what is known as “a jumper”. The man was seen to just step off the platform into the path of the oncoming Portsmouth train. He must have been in an awful state of mind to take his life this way, and sadly a surprising number of people take this option of suicide; what a wake of destruction he left behind him.
When I looked around this morning all seemed back to normal as though nothing had ever happened. But is it? There is the trauma the train driver must be suffering, and the people on the station who saw what happened. Not to forget the station staff, not only at Gatwick but other stations who were bombarded with questions from angry, tired and wet commuters who just wanted to get home.
Not everything was quite back to normal. The trains were running with fewer carriages due to rolling stock being in the wrong places. We had announcements on the train apologising for the short form of trains and explaining this was due to a fatality at Gatwick last night and Southern Rail de-restricted the First Class compartments to allow standing commuters seats. That is something you rarely hear.
Did the man have any family? If so they must be devastated at the horror of the manner in which a loved one had chosen to take his life.
I hope that those involved in the tragedy last night, from the train driver, the rescue crew and the bystanders, as well as his family, find the strength to come to terms and recover. As for the man himself, may he now find peace.