Tag Archives: visual impairment

Tackling our dangerous train stations

Embed from Getty Images

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.

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged and | 10 Comments

We need a Lib Dem role model for disabled people

 

A couple of days ago, I found myself in quite an unusual situation. As a candidate for May’s local elections, I was campaigning in my ward’s town centre when someone flung their arms around me and gave me a great hug.

She told me she’d been watching me and was gobsmacked to see me doing what I was doing. As a visually impaired candidate, people are frequently a bit shocked to see me knocking on their doors. But this was different. She introduced me to her five-year-old daughter, who had just started learning how to use a white cane.

We had a lovely chat. The girl told me her cane was named Dora, after Dora the Explorer, and I explained that my cane had an orange handle, because that’s my favourite colour.

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged | 22 Comments
Advert



Recent Comments

  • Alex Macfie
    Justin: You are seriously mistaken if you ascribe any honour to the process by which Brexit was reached just because it involved a referendum. The Brexit refere...
  • Keith Legg
    The reason Blair and Paddy didn't go for a full-on pact in 1997 is exactly the same reason why Ed and Starmer won't this time round - neither of the party's mem...
  • Peter Martin
    @ Joe, Meant to add this this link. There are lots of similar studies which are easily found if you Google the key words. https://startsat60.com/media/li...
  • Peter Martin
    @ Joe, “We might all of us be willing to contribute to the relief of poverty, provided everyone else did.” Or we might not....
  • Alex Macfie
    @Peter: The electoral politics was a lot more complex than that, as I think you know perfectly well. There was no great collective decision by the "electorate" ...