New research shows how rail stations can be managed better to avoid accidents

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Small changes to the way rail stations are run could mean big improvements to safety for passengers, according to two new pieces of research from rail industry body RSSB.

Clarifying the requirements and recommendations for the design and position of the yellow line and improving customers’ awareness of higher risk platform slopes, will reduce accidents.

Following the recent news that a child was spotted hanging his head over the edge of a train platform, it is vitally important that platform markings are easily understood by the public. 

And while rail bosses want to continue to push home the message that passengers need to keep back from the edge, they also want to make sure the design and markings have the desired effect.

As the Rail Accident Investigation Branch (RAIB) highlighted in 2014, pushchair related incidents at the platform edge have increased, in particular reports of unsecured wheeled buggies and wheelchairs rolling towards the rail. The yellow line has been confirmed as a useful indication of the appropriate area in which to wait.

CCTV footage from Nuneaton station (as highlighted by RSSB last year) shows the risk posed to unsecured buggies by slipstreams. 



RSSB commissioned two pieces of research to help address risks at the platform edge, and the findings in both cases illustrate safety measures that can be used.

The first of these projects was Identifying mitigations for the risk of unplanned movement of wheelchairs and pushchairs on station platforms (T1098), which was published in April. 

The research was undertaken with the help of key focus groups, including wheelchair users and parent groups.

The research recommends some practical actions including:

  • Placing awareness posters in areas frequently used by wheelchair and pushchair users, such as in lifts
  • Relocating platform furniture, ticket machines, on platform retail outlets and information screens to lower risk locations on platforms to encourage lower risk behaviour
  • Creating tailored, public address system announcements on platforms and trains that are at higher risk locations.


The work has been well received by industry. Steve Enright, Head of Safety, Security and Sustainability, Abellio Holdings, said: ‘It is the first detailed investigative report that brings together as many of the influencing factors as we have been able to identify. It has been wide ranging in scope and thorough in attention to detail. As such it should be viewed as a foundation work for considering the hazard and the risks that arise and how we can develop our risk control strategies.’

The second project, which was published at the end of May, is entitled Optimising the design and position of platform markings designed to keep people away from the platform edge (T1118)

The aim of this project was to create guidance on the most effective design and position of platform markings at the platform edge. 

The research shows that a consistent approach to the yellow line and tactile across the UK rail network would help to improve safety at the platform edge. However, yellow lines and tactile paving may still need to be positioned differently because of the differences in platform and passenger factors.

The research recommended two standard default positions for these platform markings:

  • A standard position of an integrated yellow line and tactile paving at 760mm from the platform edge, when there is low risk and enough space behind the line for customers to wait
  • A 100mm wide yellow line at 1400mm when there are non-stopping passenger services over 100mph, freight services over 45mph, any other significant aerodynamic risk such as the wind from a passing train pulling people or objects across the platform, and sufficient space behind the line for customers to wait. Tactile paving should be installed in the standard position of 760mm from the platform edge but in a colour as similar as possible to the platform surface.


Michael Hamill, Stations Safety Specialist, Network Rail, said: ‘The guidance produced as a result of this research is highly beneficial for the rail industry. It will ensure that there is appropriate standardisation of platform markings at the platform edge while acknowledging the requirement for a flexible approach.’

To ensure passenger and staff safety remains at its best, it is recommended that duty holders, station owners and operators adopt the guidance from both pieces of research.

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