Travelling by train is still one of the safest modes of transport. There are over 2,500 stations on the mainline network, and this creates risks that need to be managed to help keep passengers, workforce and the public safe.

It is now eight years since RSSB exposed a rise in platform-train interface (PTI) risk to the industry, prompting the focus of resource and expertise on this important area, and the creation of the Passengers on Trains and Stations Risk Group (PTSRG). Looking at the most recent data, overall harm has decreased from the levels seen in 2018/19. There has been a reduction in fatalities, although regrettably there were still seven fatalities in this area in 2019/20. Most major injuries to passengers and public are caused by slips, trips and falls—especially on stairs. Incidents at the platform-train interface make up a smaller proportion of major injuries but are much more likely to cause a fatality. Most platform edge fatalities do not involve people getting on or off trains; many come when passengers fall from the platform in front of moving trains, or touch the live conductor rail.

Another hazard that the railway can control is that from trap and drag incidents, where people or items are trapped in the train doors and dragged along the platform, with very serious consequences. Checking that everyone and everything is clear of the train before it departs is crucial, but it can be challenging to manage with the numbers of people on platforms.

Most workforce injuries are sustained by train operator staff moving round stations, getting on and off trains and interacting with customers.

What the rail industry is doing

Our focus will be on the customer’s end to end journey—where collaboration increases efficiency and safe movement and reduces harm—at stations, and on platforms and trains.

Strategic challenges—what industry wants to do

  • We want to enhance the non-technical skills and knowledge of employees (on and off the train), to reduce harm and improve safe performance at stations and on platforms—and to positively influence passenger behaviour.
  • We will enhance customer communications, especially safety messaging, by increasing the consistency and range of communication methods used. This will address an overreliance on using posters for safety messaging.
  • We will use the Taking Safe Decisions model to improve collaboration between DfT, Network Rail, rolling stock leasing companies, duty holders, train manufacturers, and other transport authorities when changes to station operations are proposed.
  • We will develop and implement a programme of work to reduce the size of steps and gaps across the network, which encompasses the step and gap between the train and the platform, train bodyside gaps, and intervehicle gaps. This will help meet the challenge that only 7% of platforms conform with the platform position set out in the Railway Industry Standard RIS-7016-INS.
  • We will introduce new technology that the industry can use to fully realise its benefits, and improve safety and customer service in station operations.

How to get involved

There are many opportunities for you to contribute to leading health and safety on Britain’s railways.

Industry is particularly encouraged to work with and actively support this group: