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Doors driver or guard operated, risk to passengers remains low

New analysis that we published in July confirms there is no difference in risk whether train doors are operated by the guard or driver.

Our investigation into six years of recent safety data (2010-2015) looked at all the relevant recorded incidents at the platform edge on the national rail network. We have concluded that the risk to passengers associated with train dispatch – the processes used by staff to ensure trains leave stations safely – is extremely low.

The low levels of risk identified imply that individual rail companies are adept at managing the specific risks local to their operations. And that they should continue to enjoy a good safety record, so long as attention is focussed on managing those risks appropriately – regardless of what operational techniques they use.

Over 1.73 billion passenger journeys were made, using over 2,500 stations, in 2016-17. And the overall harm to passengers has actually fallen, with fewer major injuries due to slips, trips, and falls being recorded.

While 2016-7 saw 4 fatalities to passengers in accidents at the platform edge, this is roughly comparable to the risk of being killed from a lightning strike (about 2 or 3 a year in the UK). This compares to 500 deaths a year in the UK due to food poisoning, and about 1,800 deaths on the roads.

Past investigations also show that deaths at the platform edge are often linked with intoxication and individual passenger behaviour. They can occur in a range of circumstances, most often when no train is present.

The latest figures also continue to confirm train travel as one of the safest forms of land transport. Cars are about 21 times as risky, bicycles nearly 400 times, and motorcycles nearly 1,400 times more risky than travelling by train in Britain.

RSSB’s Director of System Safety and Health, George Bearfield said, 'Our research shows that the risks to passengers are extremely low, to the point that it is impossible to distinguish any meaningful difference between different dispatch techniques and so illustrate that both operation with a guard and driver controlled operation are equally safe.'

​Further information:

Annual Safety Performance Report - PTI risk

George Bearfield, Director of System Safety & Health, System Safety talks about the PTI risk and DCO in the Annual Safety Performance Report video.


Risk associated with train dispatch - report

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