Using technology to reduce platform edge accident risk

Source: RTM Oct/Nov 16

RSSB’s safety management systems specialist Kevin Thompson explains how a new tool can help reduce safety risks at the platform edge.

There are about 5,000 platforms on the British mainline train network. While our railway is one of the safest in Europe, nearly 1,500 incidents took place at the edges of those platforms last year alone. Platform risk assessments should be carried out regularly but, traditionally, those risk assessments have been carried out as a paper-based exercise with no commonality and little sharing of information. 

To help provide a common, transparent approach to understanding platform edge risk, RSSB has just launched a web-based risk assessment tool. It is hoped that widespread use of the tool will lead to better sharing of information and prioritising of stations requiring attention. 

The tool has been developed with input from staff who undertake train dispatch and platform risk assessments. As well as the web-based tool, an app has also been created (for Apple or Android tablet devices) which can be used when no internet or wi-fi connection is available. Any data added whilst offline can be uploaded to the tool by synchronising the mobile device when there is a wi-fi connection. The assessment questions can also be printed, filled in by hand, and inputted manually into the web tool after. 

Single database 

A single database sits behind the tool that will capture the data, helping each company to review their risk assessments and consider platform risks across their entire operation. The information can also be collated nationally by RSSB to understand trends across the rail network and help to inform the approaches set out in the industry’s Platform Train Interface (PTI) strategy. 

Users are able to input key information about particular stations and platforms to the tool in preparation for an assessment, including a breakdown of any previously recorded incidents at the station and the types of rolling stock which use the platform. 

To complete the assessment, users give a score against each measure and add comments. Recommendations are then made, which might be proposed station improvements or information that needs to be relayed to station staff. 

Another part of the tool presents the risk control percentage score for the station and breaks it down into the areas covered during the risk assessment: station, platform, passenger and rolling stock. It also shows a risk control percentage score for each platform. Finally, the top 20 measures which could result in the biggest change in the risk control percentage score are listed. 

The tool has been tested and piloted with a limited number of TOCs and Network Rail.  Staff at Network Rail who took part in the trial said they found the tool very easy to use, data input was good and they liked the user guidance in regard to the scoring system. 

Allan Spence, chairman of the PTI Strategy Implementation Group, said: “The new tool has been developed to streamline the way risk to passengers as they board trains is assessed. 

“Preventing injuries relies on the industry’s ability to better understand what causes them. Companies managing mainline stations will now be able to share a common, transparent approach to sharing information and prioritising work to make stations and platforms even safer.” 

Anyone responsible for carrying out platform risk assessments and wishes to use the web tool needs to email:

[email protected] to obtain a login and password to the system. Once they have access the app can be downloaded and used in conjunction with the web tool.



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


DJ   18/11/2016 at 08:55

It needs risk assessment, then it needs measures put in place to protect passengers from high speed trains flying through platforms. Some kind of retractable fencing that drops into the platform would suit perfectly. I am surprised more incidents like this don't occur. Considering our risk averse culture, I can't believe that something this dangerous has been ignored for so long

Henry Law   16/12/2016 at 13:53

On the continent new trains often have some kind of retracting step which deploys when the doors open and closes the gap between platform and train. In addition to the safety advantage, people board and alight faster, thereby reducing station dwell time. I raised this with TfL in 2009, in connection with the S-stock for which the procurement process was then beginning, but received the usual kind of stupid reply explaining why it could not be done.

Jerry Alderson   16/12/2016 at 15:52

Henry Law is correct. In Vienna, for example, the first and last U-Bahn carriages on a train (i.e. the ones nearest the lift, where wheelchair users are likely to be) have gap fillers that come out to touch the platform edge and t hem retract after the doors have closed. OEBBs new City Jet trains have similar gap fillers for the doors to the carriages designed to wheelchair users. In Britain our concept of gap fillers is rubber edging fixed along the platform that the train may touch.

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