Passengers stopping a train?

Back in the day(technical term), could passengers pull a rope from their seat and stop a train?

Seems like a terrible idea but you always see it in old movies.

For a Few Dollars More” with Clint Eastwood and “Back to The Future”(the western one) for example

A bad idea why? It’s not done via a rope going all the way down the train any more, but every train I’ve been in still has an “emergency brake” available to passengers. The only time I’ve ever seen or heard of one misused has been in movies, whereas I know of a few incidents where it was used properly.

All New York City subway cars have emergency brake cords. They do work. Malicious pulls are very unusual, probably because the cord-puller would then be stuck on an immobile train full of angry commuters.

ETA: The emergency brake cords are also present on New York-area commuter railroads.

I would think halloween and april fools day, the trains would just sit all day. I’ve never been on a subway. Oklahoma is cutting edge you know;)

ISTR that the San Diego Trolley had emergency pull cords as well back when I was growing up there and rode it regularly, and I don’t recall any malicious mischief ever happening with them.

Not with fines between 1,000€ and 18,000€. Which probably would be paid by you and not by your grieving parents… probably. Wonder whether you could get sued by someone claiming loss of business, that would hurt.

I don’t know how accurate this is, but Wikipedia says that the situation in the US is different to that in some other countries.

This impies that the “communicating cord” does not directly apply the brakes in the US, but simply signals the driver. This is in direct contrast to the situation in the UK and elsewhere, where a passenger using the PassCom will directly apply the brakes.

Whether that applies to all US railroads I have no idea. Perhaps New York City subway cars are different, and have true emergency brake cords that act independently of the driver.

In the UK malicious application of the emergency brake is relatively rare, but not unknown, happening (very approximately) once in several thousand rail journeys.

The article is nonsense. The writers seem to be confusing signalling cords (which run the length of a car and are available to all passengers, and survive to this day on city buses) with emergency brake cords, which are in one corner of the car and immediately and violently stop the train.

To be fair it does mention that emergency brakes are present on the end walls of each carriage; this is the case in most modern stock in the UK, where thr ‘communication cord’ has been replaced by a handle or lever.

I think you have to pay a 200 euro fine in Holland.

I was in train where a woman pulled the emergency brake, she saw a cow in a field on its side and was concerned that cow was ill……

On a busy train in the UK a few years ago there were two women who had obviously just come back from holiday since they had lots of luggage. They were yapping away happily (and quite loudly, much to the annoyance of the rest of us) and not paying attention to the station stop announcements. We’d been sitting still at a station for a couple minutes when one noticed that this was their station. They jumped up and started wrangling their luggage towards the door. One woman got off, but as the other was still rounding up bags the train pulled out. She pulled the emergency handle and the train stopped just away from the platform. The guard turns up and she asks if the train can back up so she can get off. He says something along the lines of “No, but you WILL be getting off at the next station and the police will be there to meet you”.

On another crowded train there was a woman holding a baby standing near the door. I offered her my seat but she didn’t want it. Moments later the baby pushed the big shiny red button it could see. It was the ‘emergency talk to driver’ button, not the emergency stop so there was no harm except embarrassment. Bet she wished she’d taken the seat.

Even so, the times you see this happening in movies and old TV shows are almost always the communication cords. They confuse them purposely for comedic effect, as most people know that such shows aren’t documentaries.

In that context, I don’t think it makes a lot of difference.

The communications cord is just a mechanical link to some sort of sounder in the driver’s cabin, but pulling it when the train is in motion is a signal requesting an emergency stop; the difference in effect, from the passenger (and movie narrative) point of view, is a slight delay in the action of stopping the train.

To stop the train
in cases of emergency;
Pull on the chain!
Pull on the chain!
Penalty for improper use,
five pounds!

In the early days of passenger trains, many small stations and whistlestops along the line were not regularly stopped at. Frequently the outgoing mail from that station would be in a bag hung from a hook near the track and the train crew would scoop it up while passing (while tossing a bag of any mail for that station onto the platform from the moving train).

Anyway, the train would only stop if there was a passenger wanting to get on or off the train. Trains were notified of passengers waiting to board by signal boards at the station. Passengers who wanted to get off the train would pull the communication cord, which notified the engineer and conductor that the train needed to stop to let someone disembark.

In other words, it wasn’t primarily for emergency use, but to let the driver know to stop. I’ve seen the cords used on city buses the same way.

The informational sticker next to the emergency brake cord helpfully explains that, no matter what sort of emergency may be occuring, pulling the emergency brake cord is not the correct response.

There used to be emergency brakes in all French trains, but they’ve been replaced maybe 10 years ago by emergency signals for the engineer (maybe not on small local trains, I’m not sure). The reason being that they were indeed, misused and almost never used for a valid reason.

About the only legitimate use by a passenger for an emergency brake I can think of would be a person falling from the train.

And the misuse of the emergency brake is a hazard because it apparently puts a big strain on brakes. Such a misuse (though added to 2 other factors), caused a major train accident in Paris 15 years ago or so (the train entered the station at full speed and was unable to brake, so it crashed). The woman who had used the emergency brake wanted to get off the train closer to her house.

I’ve also heard that if there is an obstruction on the tracks and you want to warn an oncoming train to stop that you can jumper across the tracks (such as by using automotive jumper cables clamped to the rails) to cause a red signal. Is that true?

It does in relationship to what the OP asked.

OK, in that case, the answer is: “Yes, passengers could pull a rope from their seat and stop a train”

Because pulling the rope signals the driver to perform an emergency stop.