Press Release from the UK RAIB: The RAIB is investigating two similar incidents involving wheeled transport rolling off a station platform and onto the track at Southend Central and Whyteleafe stations on 28 August and 17 September 2013 respectively
Image of platform at Southend Central station
Incidents involving a wheelchair rolling off Southend station platform
on 28 August 2013 and a pushchair rolling off Whyteleafe station platform
on 17 September 2013
The RAIB is investigating two similar incidents which both involved wheeled transport rolling off a station platform and onto the track. The first incident occurred at Southend Central and involved a wheelchair with an elderly occupant. The lady suffered a broken hip as a result of the fall. The second incident occurred at Whyteleafe and involved a pushchair with a young child. The child suffered only minor injuries in the accident. In neither case did a train arrive before the individuals concerned had been returned to the platform.
At 18:13 hrs on 28 August 2013 an elderly lady and her carer were escorted by a member of station staff onto the platform at Southend Central station. The wheelchair was positioned mid-way along the platform, facing the railway, awaiting the arrival of the train. The wheelchair’s parking brake was not applied and neither the carer nor the member of staff noticed it starting to move towards the railway. It then fell off the platform with the occupant still strapped inside. While passengers and a member of station staff went to assist the lady, the driver of the approaching train was called to warn him of the potential obstruction, but he had already observed passengers climbing back onto the platform and clear of the railway. The examination of the platform revealed a gradient towards the track was present in the area where the wheelchair was originally positioned.
At about 10:40 hrs on 17 September 2013, a lady with a small child and a baby in a pushchair arrived at Whyteleafe station. She stopped at the platform ticket machine, leaving the pushchair parallel with the railway while she purchased a ticket. She did not apply the hand brake on the pushchair and did not notice that it had started to roll forward. The pushchair then turned through 90 degrees and fell onto the track, narrowly missing the live conductor rail. The lady and other passengers jumped onto the track to recover the baby and pushchair. Examination of the platform identified that a gradient was present around the area where the ticket machine had been installed, both parallel with the track and falling towards it.
Image of platform at Whyteleafe station
Historically, guidance on station design has indicated the desirability of gradients on platforms falling away from the track. The RAIB’s investigation will examine the circumstances under which both of these platforms had gradients sloping towards the track, and the extent to which the same situation occurs elsewhere on the railway network. It will also review the extent to which this hazard is recognised by the railway industry and the steps taken to manage the risk.
The RAIB’s investigation is independent of any investigation by the Office of Rail Regulation.
The RAIB will publish its findings, including any recommendations to improve safety, at the conclusion of its investigation. This report will be available on the RAIB website.