Passenger safety: Respect the edge

Source: RTM Oct/Nov 2018

Claire Coward, communications lead at the RSSB, discusses her organisation’s latest passenger safety campaign.

Incidents at the platform train interface (PTI) account for almost half of the total passenger fatality risk on the mainline railway network, and about one-fifth of the overall passenger fatality and weighted injury risk. To manage this risk we must acknowledge that the PTI is part of the system that makes up the railway and not an isolated issue, and therefore has and will continue to become an important consideration for design, operations, workforce development and passenger behaviour.

Train travel remains one of the safest modes of transport in the UK. However, harm can still occur as passengers board and alight trains, or at the platform edge when no train is present. The potential for slips, trips and getting caught in the doors is a small risk, but one that the industry wants to manage by raising awareness. The number of passenger incidents at the platform edge increased by 7% in 2017-18 compared with the previous year, and this is a trend that we don’t want to see continuing. 

Through industry working groups – made up of train operators, Network Rail, RSSB and other bodies – a new campaign has been designed to help implement a change in passenger behaviour.

Respect the Edge is the new rail industry passenger safety campaign, designed to reset people’s awareness and understanding of what’s at stake. Train travel is rightly associated as being very safe, but that can mean people assume that they’ll come to no harm no matter how they behave on the platform. The new campaign aims to remind people of the consequences of complacency.

It uses a series of images which focus on different risk groups: commuters, festival-goers, people who are distracted, those with luggage, parents and children, sports fans, unfamiliar travellers, and those who are socialising and may have been drinking. Each passenger group has a suite of images, videos and a key message designed to highlight the risks that are posed to them if they aren’t careful around the PTI.

With industry support, RSSB began the digitally-focused campaign. The suite of images and videos were designed in a way that they could be easily shared on social media, online and on digital billboards in stations.

In the first wave of promotion, the focus was on school pupils and their parents ensuring that they travel safely, particularly those who may be new to travelling by train.

The guidance issued stated that passengers can do the following to ensure they are safe:

  • Keep away from the edge of the train platform, regardless of whether there is a train arriving or not; 
  • Stand behind the yellow line and pay attention to platform markings and station announcements; 
  • Do not rush to board a train when the door alarm is sounding – this means the doors are closing. Once they are closed they do not re-open, and you could become trapped. 

Through creating imagery and messages that relate to each key audience demographic, RSSB is hoping to start changing audience behaviours and seeing less PTI incidents occur.

Respect the Edge is designed to be a continuous campaign that the industry can use to highlight risks. There will be a series of mini campaigns as the year rolls on, but overall RSSB wants to ramp up the momentum on digital channels. The assets are available to all train companies to use on their own digital channels to support their own local needs – and many have already taken advantage, helping to spread the word.


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