According to an article in The Economist published in 2003 London Underground has one of the best safety records of any of the older metro systems in the world, with just one fatal accident for every 300m journeys. Posters every now and again remind us about the tally of accidental deaths that occur each year and of course there is the occasional news story of a death or the improbably mundane driver announcement that you're going to be delayed due to someone under a train. Londoners tend to take these statistics in their stride.
Two weeks ago Londonist was hosting a little get together in a very crowded pub near Holborn. We were situated near the door so got the fist blast of chilly London air as well as snippets of conversation as the place slowly filled for the evening. A lot of the talk seemed to be about a 'bloody suicide' on the line and how inconvenient it was for someone to 'top themselves' at rush hour. Such is life in London.
The next day we did a quick post about a fatal accident at Earls Court. Over the next few days we learned little more about what had happened except that two people had fallen under a train. One died and the other remains in hospital.
Today The Times ran a long article on the man who died, 25-year-old Vu Quang Hoang Tu and it makes for a very sobering read:
Vu Quang Hoang Tu was drawn to London by its buildings. As a student in Hanoi he saw a photograph of Westminster in a book and conceived the idea of studying architecture in Britain.
On arriving a little over a year ago, he sent an excited e-mail to his younger brother: “The architecture is so different from Vietnam. Now I see it with my own eyes, it is very great, very beautiful.”
It's long and slightly harrowing, but it puts a face to at least one of this year's statistics. We'd urge you all to read it.