Monday, October 4, 2010

The Haunted Tram

There's an old superstition that buildings should never be constructed with a thirteenth floor, on the grounds that the number 13 is unlucky. In Croatia, this logic or lack thereof apparently can also be applied to streetcars. Local residents of the town of Zagreb are demanding that officials renumber the #13 tram, citing an unusually high rate of accidents over the years.

Dozens of people have been hurt on the service in Zagreb over the decades, leading locals to become convinced it is cursed.

"We may have to renumber the route," an official said.

Halloween 1954 saw the worst accident involving the tram.

On October 31, it jumped off its track at 80 kilometres per hour, rolled over four times and knocked down a number of trees before finally slamming into a pole.

After the accident, in which 19 people died, the driver was found to be at fault but the tram was abolished.

The No.13 tram came back "on track" 42 years later, however, and was involved in four accidents in just a month of its 1996 existence.

Despite being out of service for over 40 years, it became the tram with the greatest number of accidents ever within 12 months.

In another accident in 2008, which happened at 13.00 in the afternoon, 13 people were injured.

The latest in the tram's spooky string of accidents took place last week, when several people were hurt after it was hit by the No.3 tram as it stood at the station.

This certainly represents a series of unusual coincidences so something paranormal might be going on here, but if so I doubt that slapping a new number on a streetcar is going to make much difference. As a magician the first thing I would check is the streetcar itself. If it's cursed or haunted there's no way a new number is going to change anything so long as the same physical tram is in use. Magical effects are anchored to objects, not numbers, and the same is true of ghosts.

Still, I'm assuming from the article that during the 40 years that this streetcar was out of service another one was still running its route. If not, the route should be examined before assuming that anything paranormal is associated with it. That particular track may simply be more dangerous than others under some conditions and that could explain the additional accidents right there.

In either case, all officials may wind up doing by renumbering is creating another unlucky number. But let's hope not.

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Undercrypt said...

Alternatively, if the "curse" is powered by all of the people who believe that the #13 tram is cursed, simply changing the number might be effective.

Scott Stenwick said...

I suppose you could make the same case regarding driver error, which sounds like what happened with the 1954 accident. I also have a hard time believing that the driver wouldn't be at fault when his or her tram runs into another one that's sitting still. You could be dealing with a combination of:

(A) If drivers are able to pick their trams based on seniority or something and they all believe in the curse, whoever got stuck with #13 would likely be the least experienced driver.

(B) Whoever winds up stuck driving #13 winds up freaked out because they believe in the curse and make bad decisions or stupid mistakes.

So maybe that's what it boils down to, then. If the renumbering works, it's some sort of "mass hysteria" or whatever you want to call it. If it doesn't, the effect must be something else - maybe the route, maybe the car itself, or just maybe something paranormal.