Trainsurfing Tragedy

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Trainsurfing Tragedy

By Mary McConville

On Friday, June 27, Jordan “Sinch” Porter took off his clothes and climbed onto the roof of the outbound train as it approached Balaclava Station. A little later, he was dead – electrocuted. A witness said that his body was burning, “convulsing and shaking.” His death may have been filmed by a colleague with a camera positioned on another bridge.

Balaclava Station has been the centre of a lot of construction work in the past months. That may be why Porter chose that station, for its industrial atmosphere, with plenty of scaffolding, fencing and workmen (the official stuff) and graffiti (the unofficial stuff). The graffiti now contains messages in honour of Porter, simply wishing him to “rest in peace”.

An ambulance was called for Porter around 2.30 pm but the emergency services had to cut the power off before they could safely remove the body. Paramedics also offered help to the train drivers but it was not needed – then. Later, they may have felt the need for a good cry or talk with a friend when the shock wore off and feeling returned. Train drivers are sometimes “collateral damage” psychologically, after incidents they cannot prevent and must witness.

Trainsurfing has become a serious problem. Metro now arrests more than 30 people a month for train surfing. It has even affected me personally. On the way home on a train one night the driver stopped the train and announced in a cheerful but determined voice that we could wait all afternoon but we were not moving on until the person riding between the carriages moved back into the carriage proper. They must have obeyed because the train soon moved on.

Train surfing is not exclusive to Australia. It has even made an appearance in one of Terry Pratchett’s recent Discworld stories, “Raising Steam”, by a character who lives for danger. His excuse was that it was part of the military skills he needed to protect the Low King of the Dwarves. He survived, but admittedly the story is a fantasy.

Dead train surfers are unfortunately not a new phenomenon. In 2008 a dead body was found on top of a carriage in Flinders Street Station.

The death of Jordan “Sinch” Porter leaves many sad friends and a young daughter.

May he rest in peace.


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