Train Surfing Is As Insane, Dangerous As It Sounds

Italian photographer Marco Casino just took first prize in the World Press Photo Multimedia Awards with his short film Staff Riding that follows South African train surfers. Yup, train surfers. Catch the entire short after the jump.

Train surfers dance on the roofs and sides of the commuter railway cars that criss cross South African townships. The groups of young men that do this admittedly dangerous sport organize themselves into crews, coming up with their own styles and often posting their exploits to Youtube.

Electrocutions, maimings and dismemberments have gotten some attention — in 2006 the former Minister of Transport hired 5,000 safety officers to try to curb the the sport — but outside of the occasional national story, news of train surfing stays in the townships where it happens. In places like Katlehong, the area outside of Johannesburg in Casino's film, skilled surfers can gain a level of notoriety. The appeal of low-level stardom is so great that local schools feel the need to discourage the sport.