Tag Archives: stations

Tackling our dangerous train stations

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At around 19:05 hrs on Wednesday 26 February 2020, a passenger train struck and fatally injured a person who had just fallen from platform 1 of Eden Park station.

The person, who had impaired vision, moved near to, and fell from, the platform edge probably because his visual impairment meant he was unaware that he was close to this edge. The platform edge was not fitted with markings intended to assist visually impaired people.

The above words are not my own, or some emotive media report of a horrific fatality, but the words from the investigation report carried out by the Rail Accident Investigation Branch.

The death of Cleveland Gervais would almost certainly have been avoided, if the platform at this train station in south London had (at this time) the basic safety measure of tactile paving.

Since February of last year I have been investigating the wider issue of rail safety throughout the whole rail network.   A Freedom of Information request that was made to Network Rail revealed that across the whole railway network more than a third (35%) of train platforms by length did not have tactile paving in 2020. A further concern was that at some stations there is tactile paving at some platforms, but not all of them, creating a totally confusing situation for people who rely on tactile paving.

Working with RNIB and Guide Dogs I have also discovered that for too long tactile paving was considered by the railway industry to be an “access” measure, which was considered only necessary to install when a station was facing wider upgrades, and not a vital safety measure of its own, which must be urgently provided at every train platform.

That attitude has, thank goodness, been finally dropped, but even now the current Network Rail plan for ensuring that tactile paving is installed on 100% of platforms has a deadline of 2029. Yes that is correct – at present blind and visually impaired people are being told they will have to wait eight years before every train station is safe and independent travel is far less frightening.

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