Image Courtesy of Network Rail
Over the past five years rail passengers have stepped on and off trains more than 15 billion times. While Britain has the safest railway in Europe, tragically during this time 18 people have lost their lives and almost 7,000 injuries have occurred following falls from the platform, or while boarding and alighting trains.
With passenger numbers increasing year on year, companies across the rail industry have worked to look up to 30 years ahead to identify and reduce any further risks to safety and published a joint long-term strategy. It aims to make the transition between the train and the platform safer, so that growing numbers of people can continue to enjoy a safe and better performing railway for years to come.
The gap between the train and the platform is designed to be practical. It must both be large enough to provide sufficient space for a variety of different train types to run safely and practicably without creating a physical obstruction but also be small enough to allow people to get on and off quickly and safely. The gap cannot be closed nor can it ever be exactly the same at all Britain’s 2,500 stations, as they were built at different times by different historic railway companies.
There are a number of factors which contribute to accidents between the platform and trains and analysis shows:
Neal Lawson, director of operations and maintenance services at Network Rail explained the challenges the industry faces: “The network is made up of 2,500 stations, all with different layouts, built at all different times over the past 180 years, with different types and designs of trains and different and changing passenger needs this means there is no one magic bullet solution to improving platform safety but our challenge is to find ways to make it better for passengers.
“Everybody has heard the phrase ‘Mind the Gap’. We’re minding that gap every day, looking at how we can make that gap as safe as possible for the millions that rely on a safe and punctual train service.”
As part of the strategy, a public awareness campaign, backed by the rail industry including Network Rail and train operators, has been launched in stations across Britain. Called, “Lend a Helping Hand” it uses quirky verse to encourage people to be more considerate of their fellow passengers. An internal industry campaign also aims to help railway staff better identify those passengers in need.
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