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Six Ways to Improve Platform Safety

Ensuring platform safety is a high priority in today’s urban environments.  This is true not only in the United States but across the world, as more and more travelers leave their automobiles at home to use high-speed rail and other mass transit options.  Promoting safe passenger platforms is a matter of both physical improvements and public education.  This post will look at both approaches to solving the problem.

Towards Safer Train Platforms

Here are some methods transportation departments have used to enhance train passenger safety in the past few years:

  • Installing sliding doors in front of entry and departure routes.  These help to prevent accidents by blocking the rush of wind that accompanies an arriving train.  This sudden gust can catch travelers unawares, especially those with physical or mental impairments.  It also presents particular hazards to children or those standing on a platform during wet or icy conditions.
  • Establishing a slightly sloping grade moving away from the train tracks.  This enlists the force of gravity to encourage wheelchair-bound people and others to move away from the tracks unless they’re about to embark on their trip.
  • Making platforms from slip-resistant materials.  This measure helps commuters to maintain their balance at all times, even when the surface is covered in moisture.
  • Adding an overhead portico to exposed platforms to help prevent the buildup of precipitation on their surfaces.

Even with these safety enhancements in place, ensuring platform safety will still remain problematic without the cooperation of the public in preventing train-related accidents.  For this reason, public agencies should post notices in and around stations advising travelers of safety tips like the following:

  1. Be alert at all times. Travelers should know that trains can approach from either direction and at any time of day or night.  Also, unlike diesel locomotives, today’s electric-powered commuter trains are relatively quiet, making it harder to notice them until they’re too close to move to a safe distance.  For this reason, basic alertness is a key principle of train platform safety.
  2. Always stand away from the platform edge. Three feet is a good rule of thumb for commuters to keep in mind while standing on the train platform.  Coming any closer could put them in danger of being struck by the train or pushed over by the wind gust preceding it.
  3. Hold on to poles or seats while the train is moving.  This is especially important when the train is first starting or arriving, but it’s a good rule to observe at all times when it’s in motion.
  4. Use care when getting on or off the train.  It is especially important to be aware of the gap between the edge of the train and the platform.  Many a commuter has fallen into this area, resulting in injury or even death.  Children should be especially careful in this regard, as the length of their step is shorter than for most adults.
  5. Keep a tight grip on handrails when ascending to, or descending from, a platform.
  6. Always stay within approved passenger areas while in the train station.  If someone should try to entice you away from these places, contact local security agents immediately.
  7. Stay within sight of surveillance cameras whenever possible.  This helps to ensure public safety in two ways: by discouraging criminal activity and by enabling emergency responders to see if a traveler is having a medical or other emergency.
  8. Teach others the fundamentals of train platform safety.  This is an important part of a citizen’s duty to help maintain public safety and order.

Nothing can prevent all mass transit accidents.  However, by following the tips outlined in this post, both officials and everyday citizens can help to promote train platform safety.