Charities call for urgent improvement of rail safety

Leading disability rights organisations, including Thomas Pocklington Trust / Sight Loss Councils,  are calling on Network Rail and the Department for Transport to urgently install missing warning tactile surface from railway platforms in Britain before more lives are needlessly lost.

Last year Cleveland Gervais, a partially sighted man, was tragically killed by an oncoming train after falling from a platform without tactile at Eden Park Station in south-east London. A report by the Rail Accident Investigation Branch (RAIB), found that the lack of tactile surface was a likely key factor in Cleveland’s death.

“Up to 15% of people falling from platforms are blind or partially sighted. Despite being a fundamental safety measure, around half of mainline railway stations in Britain lack tactile and a contrasting line on platforms. This is completely unacceptable.” Eleanor Thompson, Head of Policy and Public Affairs at the Royal National Institute of Blind People.

While we welcome Network Rail’s commitment to install tactile across all operational platforms, their current timeframe for completion by 2029 must be urgently brought forward.

“The current timeframe from Network Rail is hugely disappointing and doesn’t recognise the urgency of the situation. Tactile is a vital safety measure for everyone. Evidence from America shows us that when tactile was introduced, people falling from platforms was reduced by 65% among those with sight loss and 45% for the general public. We cannot wait until 2029 for platform safety.” Blanche Shackleton, Head of Policy, Public Affairs and Campaigns at Guide Dogs.

The Department for Transport and Treasury need to also play their part, increasing the pace of funding releases to Network Rail so tactile can be installed in all stations as a matter of urgency.

“This major failing in station safety is an issue affecting many disabled passengers. We hear from disabled people with a range of mobility, mental health, cognitive and age-related impairments including motion and movement stability, who feel unsafe on platforms which lack tactile strips. It is critical this is resolved as a matter of priority,” Stephen Brookes MBE, Rail Policy Adviser to Disability Rights UK.

We also call on the rail industry to update their standards for when tactile should be introduced, as the current protocol of whenever work is carried out, is simply not good enough.

 

The following organisations support this joint statement

Disability Rights UK

Glaucoma UK

Guide Dogs

Leonard Cheshire

Macular Society

Retina UK

Sense

Thomas Pocklington Trust

The MS Society

The Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB)

Visionary

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