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RAIB calls for power operated door review after serious passenger injury

A serious accident on a Southeastern train at West Wickham where a passenger was injured after her backpack strap was trapped in the doors of a train was caused by a problem with door opening systems and the trainee driver failing to notice the passenger, a Rail Accident Investigation Branch (RAIB) report has concluded.

The incident occurred on 10 April 2015, when the 27-year-old’s strap became trapped as she tried to get off the 11.00am train from London Cannon Street to Hayes. She shouted for help but became separated from the backpack and fell onto the tracks, suffering life-changing injuries. Staff at the Network Rail and Southeastern joint control centre saw the incident on CCTV and stopped all trains, allowing her to receive emergency care.

The RAIB investigation found that the accident was caused by the train doors closing quickly and unexpectedly, which could only happen when a passenger pressed a door-open button less than a second after the driver initiated the door closure sequence.

RAIB identified this door behaviour, which was not known to the owner or operator, and issued urgent safety advice. In response to this, rolling stock owners undertook a review which identified 21 other types of train that permit passenger doors to be opened for a short period after door closure is initiated by train crew. Rolling stock owners have jointly commissioned a review of these systems and are investigating the practicability of alternatives.

A Southeastern spokesman said: “This was a terrible incident that has had a life changing affect on this young woman and our thoughts are very much with her.

“We have offered to help as much as possible since the accident and we have worked very closely with the Rail Accident Investigation Branch to assist them in their investigation. We have also complied with all the recommendations and learning points they have made.”

The train was being operated by a trainee driver who had only started practical training on 1 March, supervised by an experienced driver who had been an instructor driver since 2004. The train was a driver only operation, meaning the drivers were required to check that it was safe to depart by viewing CCTV monitors located on the platform. Two of these monitor images showed that a passenger appeared to be trapped but, although visible from the driving cab, neither the trainee driver nor the instructor was aware of this. The RAIB has not established why the drivers were not aware of the trapped passenger but has identified a number of possible factors.

RAIB has recommended that owners and operators of trains with power operated doors identify and correct all door operating systems showing the unsafe characteristics found in this investigation, and that the Rail Safety and Standards Board (RSSB), who maintain the British rail industry rulebook and were involved in some aspects of training the driver, seek changes to guidance documents so that, where practicable, staff dispatching trains watch the train doors while they are closing, in addition to checking the doors after they are closed.




Andrew G   29/02/2016 at 21:59

Most powered operated doors on trains or known as automatic doors are very dangerous. Even retail shops, train stations and other buildings and retail outlets that have automatic doors are also dangerous but is ideal for the disabled to pass in and out when the automatic doors responds but on trains its a different situation.

Henry Law   01/03/2016 at 20:21

Power-operated sliding doors should be safer than the old slam doors but this would not have happened if a member of staff was present on the platform. It is the price of paring manpower to the bone.

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