New Tube trains blamed for dramatic rise in people falling down the gap on London Underground

The new S-stock trains brought in to help wheelchair users have created wider gaps on curved platforms

Loulla-Mae Eleftheriou-Smith
Monday 06 June 2016 16:22
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Train driver union, Aslef, believe overcrowding has contributed to the increase
Train driver union, Aslef, believe overcrowding has contributed to the increase

An increase in the number of people falling into the gap between the train and the platform on certain London Underground lines has been blamed on the introduction of new Tube trains.

The S-stock trains, which have walk-through carriages and are lower than older Tube trains, have been designed to allow proper wheelchair access to the Metropolitan, Circle, District and Hammersmith & City lines, but the new design means that a wider gap is created when the train is on a curved platform.

The data, uncovered through a Freedom of Information request by the Evening Standard, showed a total of 307 incidents were recorded across the Tube lines in 2015, an increase of a third since the new trains started to be rolled out in 2010. Before the introduction of the £1.5bn fleet the average number of gap-related accidents was between 90 and 100 a year.

Baker Street recorded the highest number of accidents, rising from five incidents each year before the new trains started running on the Metropolitan line to a high of 52 people last year.

Finn Brennan, the district organiser of train driver union Aslef, told the newspaper that overcrowding was contributing to the issue.

“The figures demonstrate the pressure that train drivers and other staff are operating under as levels of overcrowding increase. It is only their professionalism that has meant many more people have not been seriously injured or killed when these incidents happen,” he said.

A spokesperson for Transport for London (TfL) told The Independent that before the introduction of new trains each platform is individually risk assessed with ways to mitigate accidents regularly reviewed. But while the S-stock trains enable step-free access for mobility-impaired passengers, it is not yet possible to eliminate the gap at curved platforms.

TfL has been trialling flashing blue lights to draw attention to the gap at Baker Street, alongside additional announcements, signage and staff on platforms to minimise falls, the spokesperson added.

Steve White, London Underground’s operations director, said: “While the Tube is rightly recognised as one of the safest metros in the world, we are not complacent and are working hard to further minimise accidents and injuries. This includes introducing flashing blue lights to draw attention to the gap at Baker Street, adjusting platform edges to narrow gaps at some stations and encouraging customers to take care getting on and off trains.”

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