Ways to influence passenger behaviour

Behaviour is driven by an individual’s goals and attitudes and how they interact with and understand the environment and systems around them. To keep passengers safe at the PTI, it is important to develop approaches that support passengers in achieving their goals and fosters positive attitudes towards safe behaviours.

Know your passengers

Influencing people’s behaviour is a difficult task that requires persistent effort over time to achieve desired changes. Road safety campaigns and stop smoking campaigns are good examples of this. 

The first step is to understand the goals and attitudes of passengers and how they interact with the environment and systems around them. This is discussed in the article: What drives Passenger Behaviour?

Think ‘Swiss Cheese’

When developing mitigations it is important to recognise that accidents often occur as a result of several risky behaviours coming together and a number of environmental/system issues. Some examples are provided below:

Example accident: Falling between the train and platform

Cluster of behaviours: Standing too close to the platform edge, running or pushing, carrying luggage.

Environment/system issues: Size of the step and gap, curved platform, overcrowding on platform

Example incident: Trapped in train doors

Cluster of behaviours: Late boarding/alighting, obstructing the doors, crowding, rushing

Environment/system issues: Door design and obstacle detection system

When developing mitigations, target the cluster of behaviours that contribute to incident and think about how environmental and system issues can be changed. 

This type of approach can be represented through the “Swiss Cheese” model of accident causation, which represents mitigations to layers of swiss cheese. Weaknesses in each mitigation are represented by the holes in each layer of cheese, and hazards will occur if holes in the different layers align to create a gap through all the slices. The more slices that are in place, the less likely it is that a hole in each slice will align. By using a range of mitigations, risky behaviours are more likely to be stopped before they can evolve into an accident. 

An example of a Swiss Cheese model for the PTI is described below. Layers of defence may look different for different operators and so it can be helpful to create your own version to accurately represent your layers of defence and identify where improvements can be made.

Risk assessment

This includes:

  • Identifying potential hazards before they cause harm and the mitigations needed
  • Creating awareness of risks that cannot be removed
  • Reviewing on a regular basis to keep on top of changes that could create new risks
  • Reading the risk assessment topic area.

Platform design and management 

Example mitigations can include:

  • Removing trip hazards, maintaining anti-slip surface on the platform, maintaining yellow lines, tactile and white lines on the platform
  • Weatherisation  
  • Installing ticket barriers to control the number of passengers accessing the platform 
  • Ensure good sightlines on platforms to discourage passengers from leaning over the edge
  • Considering the position of platform furniture, customer information screens, stairs etc which can influence how passengers move on the platform and where they may cluster
  • Reducing the size of the step and gap

Contingency planning 

This should include:

  • Creating plans for normal, degraded, emergency situations as well as special events – use ‘what if’ scenarios to regularly review the plans
    • Include factors such as queuing systems and identified pinch points
    • Ensure relevant communication between station staff, platform staff, train crew and any external groups involved
  • Creating plans for temporary PTI changes e.g. maintenance work including a communication plan for passengers
  • Increasing staff / BTP presence when large passenger groups are expected, to prevent undesirable behaviours

RSSB has recently published a report on crowding which can be accessed here

Customer Information

Give consideration to the following:

  • Information should be timely, accurate and clear
  • Announcements should be regular, but not excessive as they may annoy passengers and reduce their impact
  • Communications should include: 
    • Details on who is speaking / communicating the message 
    • Description of the warning / hazard / information
    • The impact this will have / severity of potential consequences 
    • What passengers should do in response to the information & when, including alternative arrangements 
  • Improving information about journeys and services in the station, on the train and platform. Examples include: 
    • Information on train size / carriage location on the platform to help disperse passengers on crowded platforms & reduce running towards train doors when the train arrives 
    • Information on train capacity, which can be beneficial for passengers with luggage or pushchairs  
  • Improving wayfinding information at stations, on trains and platforms to reduce rushing & assist those that are unfamiliar with the railway. For example:
    • Well positioned signage that is simple to locate, read and understand can help to direct & inform passengers without causing pinch points 
  • Providing clear and accessible advice for impaired passengers and those with reduced mobility. For example:
    • Provide visual and auditory information – this is also useful for passengers that are distracted. 
    • Provide information about the location of accessible carriages  
  • Providing clear information on specific departures in a timely manner, so that the risk of passengers rushing to board a train when the doors are closing is reduced. To help with this consider the location / number of customer information screens to influence where passengers stand in the station and on the platform – this can be used to avoid pinch points. 
  • Provide a combination of posters / messages / signs that stand out as they will be competing with other advertisements. The messages should be clear and tailored to appeal to the attitudes and motivations of the target groups of passengers.

RSSB has created guidance to help create and deliver communications:

Staff Interactions

There are many ways to increase staff engagement with passengers at the PTI and this should include station staff, gate line, platform staff, customer service hosts, dispatch staff and train crew.  Staff should:

  • Actively identify individuals that need help & offering assistance 
  • Be approachable & willing to help (e.g. with wayfinding, baggage etc.) 
  • Encourage passengers to act in a desirable way (e.g. ask them to spread across the platform) 
  • Challenge passengers displaying undesirable behaviours 
  • Receive the right training so they to understand the risks at the PTI and their role and responsibility in influencing passenger behaviour. 

Examples of these are provided in the booklet: Platform safety: The facts and your role

Passenger Education 

Effective passenger campaigns:

  • Educate passengers about risks at the PTI through different channels: announcements at the station, customer information screens, website campaigns, posters, visiting schools, mobile app notifications etc. 
  • Target specific behaviours and groups of people
  • Provide information that lets passengers know what to do (i.e. inform a member of staff that has the correct tools) if they drop something over the platform edge.

Example campaigns include:

Understand the passenger’s entire journey

Influencing passenger behaviour is not confined to the PTI but extends across their whole journey. Some examples are provided below.

Before they arrive at the station

Customer information: Service updates, expected busy periods and alternative travel routes can help passengers make informed decisions before they reach the station and the platform.

Passenger education: Campaigns targeted at passengers away from the station environment can help them to be aware of risks and be more alert to them prior to travelling.

When in the station

Staff interactions: Staff at ticket offices, on the concourse or supervising ticket barriers can identify and help passengers that may need help with luggage, accessibility, or finding the correct platform.

Contingency planning: Having an alternative plan in place if ticket machines, barriers etc. are out of use. If the PTI is becoming crowded, consider whether the flow can be managed before passengers reach it.

Customer information: Provide up to date, accurate service information and simple wayfinding information around the station. Provide clear information screens in the station for departing trains to discourage rushing.

When waiting on the platform

Platform design and management: A yellow line, white line and tactile paving should be in place, supported by announcements and staff interactions not to cross until train is stopped in the platform. Platform furniture should be placed strategically to encourage passengers to use the full width of the platform.

Staff interactions: Engage with passengers to encourage safe behaviours, e.g. standing behind the yellow line. Be vigilant for passenger groups that could present risks.

Customer information: There should be enough customer information screens in different locations, so that waiting passengers can easily see up to date information on services.

On the train journey

Customer information: onboard announcements and information will help prepare passengers to alight in a timely way, reducing the risk of a rushed departure onto the platform.

Boarding or alighting

Customer information: Announcements should be made to ensure that passengers waiting to board provide enough space for alighting passengers to leave the train safely.

Platform design and management: If the step-gap size is large and cannot be reduced, provide staff to assist or on-train information to warn passengers of the gap.

One final point…

To help make mitigations effective considering using the EAST model. This means they are:

Easy. Make it simple, easy and avoid information overload. For example, use simplified instructions and symbols for wayfinding.

Attractive. Passengers are more likely to pay attention to things that draw their attention such as brightly coloured cones to indicate a hazard, or staff wearing high visibility jackets to indicate where they are.

Social. People are strongly influenced by the actions of others and are likely to follow what is seen to be normal and acceptable behaviour. Boarding passengers will be more likely to stand aside for passengers leaving a train if they see others moving aside.

Timely. Provide mitigations when passengers are most likely to be receptive to them, a live announcement to ‘stand back from the platform edge’ is more likely to be adhered to if passengers hear it whilst at the platform.

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