RSSB research provides platform for rail safety


Two pieces of research suggest that small changes to rail stations could significantly improve safety on platforms, a key rail industry body has said.

The RSSB said that clarifying the requirements for the design and position of the yellow line and improving customers’ awareness of higher risk platform slopes will reduce accidents.


It highlighted the recent news that a child was spotted hanging his head over the edge of a train platform, arguing that it is vitally important that platform markings are easily understood by the public.

One piece of research looked at unsecured wheeled buggies and wheelchairs rolling towards the track, an issued highlighted in 2014 by the Rail Accident Investigation Branch (RAIB).

CCTV footage from Nuneaton station (as highlighted by RSSB last year) shows the risk posed to unsecured buggies by train slipstreams.

Identifying mitigations for the risk of unplanned movement of wheelchairs and pushchairs on station platforms (T1098) was published in April. The research was undertaken with the help of key focus groups, including wheelchair users and parent groups.

It recommended some practical actions including:

  • Placing awareness posters in areas frequently used by wheelchair and pushchair users, such as in lifts
  • Relocating platform furniture, ticket machines, on platform retail outlets and information screens to lower risk locations on platforms to encourage lower risk behaviour
  • Creating tailored, public address system announcements on platforms and trains that are at higher risk locations.

Steve Enright, head of safety, security and sustainability, at Abellio, said: ‘It is the first detailed investigative report that brings together as many of the influencing factors as we have been able to identify.

‘It has been wide ranging in scope and thorough in attention to detail. As such it should be viewed as a foundation work for considering the hazard and the risks that arise and how we can develop our risk control strategies.’

Optimising the design and position of platform markings designed to keep people away from the platform edge (T1118) was published at the end of May and aimed to create guidance on the most effective design and position of such markings.

It showed that a consistent approach to the yellow line and tactile paving across the UK rail network would help to improve safety. However, yellow lines and tactile paving may still need to be positioned differently because of the differences in platform and passenger factors.

The research recommended two standard default positions for these platform markings:

  • A standard position of an integrated yellow line and tactile paving at 760mm from the platform edge, when there is low risk and enough space behind the line for customers to wait.
  • A 100mm wide yellow line at 1400mm when there are non-stopping passenger services over 100mph, freight services over 45mph, any other significant aerodynamic risk such as the wind from a passing train pulling people or objects across the platform, and sufficient space behind the line for customers to wait. Tactile paving should be installed in the standard position of 760mm from the platform edge but in a colour as similar as possible to the platform surface.

Michael Hamill, stations safety specialist at Network Rail, said: ‘The guidance produced as a result of this research is highly beneficial for the rail industry. It will ensure that there is appropriate standardisation of platform markings at the platform edge while acknowledging the requirement for a flexible approach.’


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