Using technology to reduce accidents at the platform edge

Source: RTM Feb/Mar 16

Kevin Thompson, RSSB SMS specialist, discusses how a new app will help encourage greater consistency in assessing risk on station platforms.

In the last five years, 19 people have been killed and over 7,000 injured around the edge of station platforms. As part of an industry-wide strategy to tackle risk at the Platform-Train Interface (PTI), RSSB has created a new app to encourage greater consistency in the way risk assessments are carried out on station platforms. 

Preventing PTI incidents relies on the industry’s ability to better understand what causes them. This can be a particular problem on the British railway as a result of significant variations in station, platform and train design as well as differing dispatch methods and staffing requirements for platforms. There are also around 25 different companies responsible for managing mainline stations, which leads to a variety of approaches used to assess PTI risk. 

PTI risk consistency 

The RSSB PTI Risk Assessment Tool is a web-based and mobile application designed to bring consistency to the way PTI risk is assessed and recorded, facilitating improved sharing of information and prioritisation of stations requiring attention. 

The app can be run on iPad and Android tablets, allowing users to complete assessments on the platform in real time. It can run ‘offline’ so it is not reliant on station/platform wireless signals. Once the onsite data collection has been completed the tablet can be synchronised with the tool using a wi-fi connection. 

The tool, which was developed with input from staff across the GB railway network who undertake PTI risk assessments, allows users to: 

  • Identify the types of hazardous events that commonly occur at the platform edge
  • Assess the sufficiency of risk control measures already in place, relating to, for example, station design and management; platform characteristics and operation; train design and dispatch; passenger characteristics and behaviour
  • Determine approaches to improve existing risk controls based on the risk assessment scores 

The tool also provides users with a range of automated functionality to make PTI risk assessment easier. This includes: 

  • Population of PTI incident and footfall data for each station being assessed
  • Uploading photos and documents for example to illustrate risks and/or effective control measures
  • Ability to carry out a basic or detailed risk assessment depending on the companies requirements
  • Adaptation of assessment questions so that the PTI risk assessment can be tailored to the specific needs of the company
  • Recording and prioritising recommendations as the assessment is completed, with the ability to view a complete list of all ‘live’ recommendations that appear in the company’s assessments
  • Generation of an assessment report which provides a graphical presentation of assessment results, key areas of improvement, along with a collation of recommendations made by the assessor during the assessment
  • Signpost relevant standards and research relating to PTI 

A single database sits behind the tool that will capture the data, meaning a company can review their PTI risk assessments and consider PTI risk across their entire operation. The information can also be collated nationally by RSSB to understand trends across the GB network and help to inform the approaches set out in the PTI strategy. 

The tool is currently being piloted with a limited number of TOCs and Network Rail, and will be rolled out across the industry in April.

Tell us what you think – have your say below or email


Henry Law   13/04/2016 at 20:03

Retractable bridges or steps are widespread on trains on the continent. Whilst they take a few seconds to deploy, passengers are more confident about boarding and alighting from trains, which must help to reduce station dwell time, as well as accidents. Where it is necessary to cut back platforms to accommodate new types of rolling stock, stepping distances with older rolling stock will increase, so this is a problem that is not going away.

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