Guide Dogs Briefing Paper
Train station platform edge warning measures - essential for blind and partially sighted people
• According to the latest data form Network Rail, a third of GB train station platforms do not have warning tactile strips. ‘(Data obtained from Network Rail in July 2020 through a FOI request by Caroline Pidgeon London AM)
• In February 2020, a visually impaired man fell from the platform at Eden Park station and was fatally injured after being struck by an approaching train. The platform did not have warning tactile on the platform edge.
• The subsequent Rail Accident Investigation Branch report found that, “The platform edge was not fitted with tactile surface markings intended to assist visually impaired people. This is a possible causal factor”.
• RAIB’s report proposed six recommendations. The first and second are addressed to DfT and Network Rail. Firstly, to seek improvements in the processes that govern when tactile surfaces at the edge of station platforms should be installed, and secondly to develop a plan for installing tactile surfaces at higher priority locations in a timely manner across the railway network.
Impact on people with sight loss
Warning tactile and a painted contrasting line on station platforms is a key orientation and safety feature. These essential features warn people with sight loss, and indeed other passengers, when they are too close to the
platform edge. Some train stations have a mix of tactile and non-tactile platforms which can
cause greater uncertainty and confusion for blind and partially sighted people.
“I do get quite anxious when I’m unsure if there is tactile on the platform. I have to ask for assistance to make sure I’m not too close to the platform edge. I should be able to travel by train independently”.
Samantha – guide dog owner (Essex).
Train travel is a vital form of transport for people with sight loss. The government’s Inclusive Transport Strategy states that, “this Government is determined to make sure that disabled people have the same access to transport as everyone else, and that they are able to travel easily, confidently and without extra cost.”
The charity Guide Dogs is clear that all train station platforms across the rail network should have platform edge safety features installed (warning tactile and contrasting painted line). This will enable people with sight loss to feel more confident to travel by train independently.
Where are we now?
Following the RAIB investigation report, Sir Peter Hendy – Chair of Network Rail - has committed to installation of warning tactile on all GB station platforms by 2029 assuming, even distribution of funding within the next funding period (2024 – 29). Sir Peter has stated that, “If funding was made available sooner from the DfT the work could be expedited”.
What is Guide Dogs asking for?
Guide Dogs is asking the UK Government to take immediate action and allocate funding that will enable all station platforms to be fitted with safety tactile by 2026. We welcome the commitment by Network Rail and the DfT to
treat this issue as a priority, however, nine years is too long for visually impaired people to wait for this vital work to be completed.
How you can help
To make stations in your constituency safer for blind and partially sighted people, we are asking you to:
1. Write to Sir Peter Hendy – Chair of Network Rail - to ask that warning tactile is installed on station platforms in your constituency, that currently do not have this in place, by 2026. Email via [email protected]
2. Write to Jacqueline Starr – CEO of the Rail Delivery Group - to ask what action they will be taking with their members (train operating companies) to develop means of reducing the risk to visually impaired people using station platforms, where tactile surfaces have not yet been installed in your constituency. [email protected]
Thank you for taking the time to read this briefing and for your support.
For further information please contact the Guide Dogs Regional Campaigns Manager covering your constituency.
North of England
Adam Marsh: [email protected]
Midlands and East of England
Alexandra Jones: [email protected]
South of England (including London)
Clive Wood: [email protected]
End of document.