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RNIB calls for action on safety after death of rail user

RNIB calls for action on safety after death of rail user
22nd February 2021 Ian Streets

The Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB) said all railway stations should have tactile surface strips following the death of a partially-sighted man who fell onto the tracks.

The BBC quoted Sarah Lambert of the RNIB as saying: “Tactile paving is not just an accessibility measure, it is fundamental to the health and safety of passengers and pedestrians.

“In today’s society, there should be no train platforms without tactile paving, and it is unacceptable that it took a senseless tragedy to bring attention to its vital importance.”

Media across the UK covered the Rail Accident Investigation Branch (RAIB) report into the death of Cleveland Gervais, who was killed by a train after falling from the platform at Eden Park station in Kent in February 2020.

The BBC said evidence in the RAIB report indicated that visually impaired passengers who travel by train are exposed to substantially greater risk on station platforms than the general population.

Investigators felt Mr Gervais had been unaware of how close he was to the edge. They reported that tactile surfaces are “crucial” in reducing this risk.

The BBC reported that the RAIB’s chief inspector Simon French admitted installing new strips would be costly but said new policies were needed to better inform those who redesign platforms.

He said: “This would inform the development of a programme for the 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.”

Network Rail’s route director for Kent, Fiona Taylor, said: “Our thoughts are with the family and friends of Mr Gervais, who tragically lost his life at Eden Park last year. I am so sorry for their loss.

“We accept the recommendations made to us by the RAIB, and will continue to work hard to make our railway a safer and more inclusive place for all our passengers.”

Southeastern, which runs Eden Park station, said it would implement all the recommendations.

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