Monday, December 20, 2021

Safety Message – Falls between the platform and train

ONRSR is reminding rail transport operators about a range of risks, causes and controls associated with passenger falls between the platform and train.

Safety message: Falls between platform and train - MInd the Gap

Such incidents usually occur near passenger doors although falls into the gap between the platform and train can occur anywhere along the platform.

Previous passenger fall incidents have resulted in injuries or fatalities. More serious incidents can occur where a passenger’s fall is undetected and the train begins to move away, crushing the person stuck in the gap between the platform and train.

ONRSR’s investigations into passenger falls between the train and platform have identified causes and contributing factors across the four areas listed below. While not exhaustive and given the range of operational environments within the Australian rail industry, the following causes and contributing factors, and controls, should be noted.

CAUSES AND CONTRIBUTING FACTORS

1. Organisational factors e.g.

  • inadequate controls put in place
  • use of controls being inadequate to address the risk
  • inadequate maintenance of controls put in place to minimise the risk
  • inadequate procedures, rules, training, culture, leadership

2. Technological or equipment factors e.g.

  • older or incompatible rolling stock and platforms
  • rolling stock or platforms not equipped with sufficient controls
  • movement of the track being out of tolerance
  • curved platforms that both increase the size of the gap between train and platform, and reduce the visibility of the platform to the train crew

3. Environmental factors e.g.

  • weather conditions such as rain causing the platform or rolling stock floor to be slippery
  • weather conditions such as rain causing poor visibility or lighting of the gap

4. Individual factors e.g.

  • passengers with reduced mobility
  • passengers under the influence of alcohol/drugs
  • passengers with impaired or low vision
  • passenger recklessness
  • train crew error and/or miscommunication

CONTROLS

While not an exhaustive list, ONRSR is aware of the following controls that are available and have been used in railways both in Australia and overseas. Rail Transport Operators (RTO) should note that there are safety and operational benefits and possible detriments associated with each control. Operators must consider a range of factors, including the likelihood of the hazard and the degree of harm to determine what controls are reasonably practicable to implement (see the ONRSR Guideline – Meaning of duty to ensure safety so far as is reasonably practicable SFAIRP for more information).

Engineering:

Some of the engineering controls that railways can employ to mitigate the risks associated with passenger falls include the following:

1. Platform barriers and protections controls are controls that can be installed on the platform and provide a physical barrier to prevent passengers falling in the gap between the platform and train. Examples include:

  • Half and full height platform screen doors have been found to very effective in minimising the risk of passenger falls between the platform and train. Located on the platform, these platform screen doors close when the train is not at the platform, only opening when the train is at the platform and in alignment with the train doors. Full height platform screen doors, providing a wall to ceiling barrier, also prevent passengers climbing over.
  • Platform based bollards are bollards located on the platform which prevent falls between carriages (often where gaps are largest). This can be effective on curved platforms but only where rolling stock is the same length and can be aligned to the position of the bollards.

2. Platform Gap Controls are controls that can be installed on the platform to minimise the gap between the platform and train. Examples include:

  • Gap fillers that extend the platform horizontally: these may extend outside of the platform structure gauge and be made of a flexible or sacrificial material.
  • Vertical gap treatments to raise the height of the platform.
  • Gauntlet track to bring the train closer to the platform.
  • Maintaining the track to tighter tolerances so that the train is able to sit closer to the platform and there is less train movement.

3. Rolling stock controls are controls that can be installed on rolling stock and can minimise the risk of falls when passengers board or alight the train. Examples include:

  • Automatic door ramp extensions which are small ramps that automatically fold out of the door as part of the door opening sequence, bridging the gap between the platform and train. Automatic door ramp extensions fold up flush to the train when the doors close as part of the door closing sequence.
  • Fixed door extensions that protrude from the train reducing the gap between the train and platform, these may extend outside of the rolling stock gauge and be made of a flexible or sacrificial material.
  • Bellows and between-car-barriers minimise the larger gap that often exists between train carriages or cars of certain rolling stock fleets.
  • Portable ramps that are deployed by the driver or guard and are typically used to assist passengers with reduced mobility.

4. Emergency buttons and intercoms, such as those located on the platform or on the rolling stock itself, can be used by other passengers to notify the train crew or platform staff that someone has fallen in the gap between the platform and train thus preventing the train moving if someone has fallen.

Administrative:

Some of the administrative controls that railways can employ to mitigate the risks associated with passenger falls include the following:

  • Observation aids such as platform mirrors and video monitors, rolling stock mirrors and in-cab monitors. As it can be difficult for the train crew to see along the entire length of the platform, especially on curved platforms, these controls assist the train crew to see along the length of train and identify whether someone has fallen into the gap. This also includes newer technologies such as electronic detection systems. These systems use different detection equipment (e.g. cameras, lasers, pressure plates, infra-red) to detect whether there is an obstruction in the station pit. If someone is detected, the system can be configured to send a warning to the train crew or to train control.
  • Auditory and visual warnings include passenger announcements on a train’s PA system or over loudspeakers on the platform, or signs and stickers on both the platform and train (such as those near doorways). These controls provide reminders to passengers to mind the gap as they board or alight the train.
  • Platform line marking, hazard marking to clearly identify and delineate the edge of the platform.
  • Lighting on or around the doors, flashing lights around the doors and platform lighting help passengers clearly see the gap between the platform and train.
  • Other controls including timetable optimisation (so there is less crowding on the platform), removing clutter (so there is more space on the platform), and station staff (who can direct and manage passenger movements) can help prevent passengers crowding around the platform edge thus minimising the risk of a fall between the train and platform.

This information is provided as guidance only and may not be applicable to all railways.

Last updated: Jan 4, 2022, 1:44:33 PM