Blind man ‘unaware he was close to platform edge’ died after being hit by train

A blind man fell off a train platform and was fatally struck by a train because he was probably ‘unaware that he was close to the platform edge’, a new report has revealed.

The man fell off the edge of platform one of Eden Park Station in Bromley and was almost immediately struck by a passenger train at around 7.05pm on Wednesday, February 26 2020.

A report from the Rail Accident Incident Branch say he likely fell because the platform edge was not fitted with ‘tactile’ markings intended to assist visually impaired people.

The report from the government agency released today (February 19), recommended that more tactile surfaces, which help visually impaired people navigate platforms, be put in place at stations.

According to local reports at the time, the man is believed to have heard another train pulling in at the opposite platform and had mistaken it for a train on his platform.

Eden Park Station, Bromley
(Image: Rail Accident Investigation Branch)

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After he fell, he was struck ‘almost immediately’ by the 7pm Southeastern service from Hayes to London Charing Cross.

London Ambulance Service staff were also delayed for over 12 minutes after emergency services staff were unable to determine whether the railway’s power supply had been turned off until a member of Network Rail staff arrived on the scene.

As well as asking for tactile surfaces at the edge of station platforms to be installed, the report made five additional recommendations, including measures be taken to reduce the risks to visually impaired people where tactile surfaces have not been installed.

It also asked for more information to be made publicly available for visually impaired people to decide whether it’s safe to travel.

Lack of tactile surfaces a ‘life and death issue’

London TravelWatch director, Emma Gibson said: “As the incident at Eden Park Station shows, the lack of tactile surfaces at stations is a life and death issue. We’d like to see the timetable for installation of tactile paving sped up, with the first step being to publish details of which stations have it and which don’t. As well as a list of stations in which it will be installed first.”

Simon French, Chief Inspector of Rail Accidents said: “This tragic accident resulted in the death of someone who had impaired vision and mobility, and relied on the railway to transport him safely. My thoughts are with his family, and others who knew and were close to him, as we publish our investigation report.

“Our investigation concluded that the absence of a tactile strip along the platform edge may have been a factor in this accident. These strips are used to provide visually impaired passengers with an indication that they are approaching the platform edge. Eden Park is far from unique: around half of all mainline stations in the UK are also not equipped with this valuable aid to the visually impaired.

“Our investigation found that the government and the railway industry have policies in place to make rail travel more accessible for people with disabilities. However, there appears to have been no coherent strategy for the provision of tactile strips, despite their obvious importance to visually impaired people who value the opportunity to travel independently, without reliance on staff.

“Although RAIB recognises that the immediate provision of tactile strips across the network would be very expensive, there is a need to develop a new policy to guide decision makers. This would inform the development of a programme for installation of tactile strips, particularly at places where the risk is likely to be higher, such as busy unstaffed stations. It cannot always make sense simply to wait until platforms are refurbished to install the strips.

“While accessibility has rightly been promoted in recent years, it is important that safety is properly considered when the industry is looking at the arrangements and facilities that they provide for disabled or impaired passengers. The well-established principle that additional measures should be provided to protect rail passengers, where reasonably practicable to do so, applies to all. It is for this reason that we are urging a re-think on the approach to provision of tactile strips to ensure that they are installed where most needed.”

Do you feel safe travelling around London on public transport? Email jacob.phillips@reachplc.com

My London – Bromley