The Crumple Zone Doubles as the Wheelie Seat on the Train

It’s common knowledge that vehicles  have “crumple zones”– areas that are designed to crumple in the event of a crash, taking on most of the impact. Structurally, a car’s crumple zones are at the front and back of the vehicle, meaning that these areas handle the outside force while the middle, where the passengers and their dogs/luggage/groceries sit, is built with more rigidity making it most protected from impact.

What’s less commonly known is that trains have these sections too, only with rail transit it’s a lot tougher to identify areas that should be protected and areas that should give under pressure.  Complaints have been made about crumple zones being in the engineer’s area, making them at more risk of death in an accident. The build of passenger trains, with their long, narrow mid sections, short beaks, and abrupt cabooses don’t leave much extra crumple room in the event of a crash.


But the smack of an outside force has to go somewhere, and if you guessed that the crumple zone of a train was originally at the back where the bathrooms, coatracks and disabled people  go, you’d be smack on. In 2003, there was a bit of an outrage over this revelation, not necessarily because wheelies sat there, but because people where worried about the poor schmuck pinching a loaf during an accident. In the intelligent words of Council for Canadians with Disabilities lawyer, David Baker, “So if you’re sitting on the can and an accident occurs, you’re a goner.”

The now-archived articles covering the issue plead for accessible bathrooms, which had yet to be installed in Via Rail trains, and more isle space for guide dogs. They assert that disabled people and everyone else who cares about the safety of humanity, are actually backing for change on the same problem,”They’ve issued an order saying you’ve got to change the washrooms, which is what we’re saying except we’re adding you’ve got to make them accessible,” Transport Canada guy Brian McGregor  said.

I’ve scoured the internet looking for updates or proof of re-allotted crumple zones on Via, with no success. I’m assuming relevant bosses and CEOs had multiple meetings in a rush to resolve this issue, which could’ve easily found its way to a courtroom But just to be safe, I’m thinking of ordering myself a bubble suit (and an extra vodka)  next time I travel the rails.



  1. It’s funny to think that we live in the same city–I often make the mistake of assuming that those who read my posts are doing so from an internet cafe in some far off land.
    And yeah, you’d think the Ministry would have more of an initial handle on issues like this, eh? My guess is it was just something they assumed they’d get away with.

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