Investigation finds visually impaired man died after falling from train platform

A report by the Rail Accident Investigation Branch has found that the absence of markings used to assist those with sight loss may have been a factor in the death

train tracks
Pixabay/Michael Gaida
The absence of tactile markings on a railway platform may have been a factor in the death of a visually impaired commuter, the Rail Accident Investigation Branch (RAIB) has concluded.

The investigation was instigated after a man was struck by a train at Eden Park station in South East London at 7.05pm on 26 February, 2020.

The man, who was visually impaired, fell from the platform edge – which was not fitted with a tactile strip intended to assist those with sight loss.

A report published by the RAIB concluded that the lack of a tactile strip may have been a factor in the man’s death.

Around half of mainline stations in the UK are not fitted with this type of aid for those with sight loss.

Chief inspector of rail accidents, Simon French, noted that while the government and rail industry have policies in place to make rail travel more accessible there is no “coherent strategy” for the provision of tactile strips.

“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,” Mr French emphasised.

He said that the well-established principle that additional measures should be applied 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,” Mr French said.

There were 276,690 people in England who registered as blind or visually impaired in the 2019-2020 reporting period. The latest data from NHS Digital shows that there were 20,945 new registrations within the past year – or 57 new registrations per day.