There are over 2,500 stations on the mainline network, where 1.8 billion journeys begin and end every year. The train is still one of the safest ways to travel, and passenger numbers typically grow year on year. This puts pressure on the system and 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 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 occur when people are not boarding or alighting trains; many come when passengers fall from the platform in front of trains travelling too fast to stop in time, or touch the live conductor rail.
Another hazard that the railway can control is that from trap and drag incidents, where people or items can be trapped in the train doors and dragged along, 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 so that industry can fully realise its benefits to 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 these groups:
- People on Trains and Stations Risk Group (PTSRG): this aims to create and facilitate implementation of an industry delivery plan to achieve the station operations strategic activities
- RDG Passenger Operations Safety Group (POSG): this aims to brings all TOCs together to improve safety across the industry. This includes station operations
- Platform-Train Interface Working Group (PTIWG): this supports the PTSRG-developed delivery plan. It focusses on existing and emerging risk at the platform-train interface and ways to reduce this risk
- PTI Good Practice Group (PTIGPG): this supports the PTSRG-developed delivery plan by sharing good practice to reduce risk at the PTI, on the platform, and in the station.