Investigation into an occupied wheelchair coming into multiple contacts with a passing train at Twyford station, 7 April 2016
This is the report issued by the Rail Accident Investigation team:
“At around 10:52 hrs on 7 April 2016, a wheelchair occupied by a teenage girl moved towards the edge of platform 4 of Twyford station and into multiple glancing contacts with wagons of a passing freight train. The last contact pushed the wheelchair clear of the platform edge. The girl suffered a minor injury to her foot.
Prior to the accident, the wheelchair was stationary, behind the yellow line painted on the platform and facing parallel to the tracks. It was positioned next to the girl’s mother, who has stated that she had applied the brakes on the wheelchair.
Our investigation has been looking into:
•the sequence of events which led to the accident
•how the wheelchair moved into contact with the train, including any effects of wind turbulence generated by the passage of the train
•previous research into such aerodynamic issues
•any relevant underlying factors.
During August 2016 we commissioned testing at Twyford station to measure the velocity of slipstreams generated by passing freight trains similar to that involved in the incident. Preliminary analysis of the test results suggests that the slipstream at the time of the incident could have been sufficient to move the wheelchair with the parking brake partially applied; the likely degree of brake application is subject to further analysis.
Our investigation is independent of any investigation by the railway industry or the Office of Rail and Road(ORR).
We will publish our findings, including any safety recommendations at the conclusion of our investigation; these will be available on our website.
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The fact that trains are passing at speed through a station should provide a degree of self-awareness in people standing or sitting on the platform close to the edge but behind the yellow lines. As an occasional rail user, I know from first hand experience that when a freight train or an InterCity train passes through our local station I am buffeted by the strength of the winds that are created by the slipstream, so knowing this I tend to stand much further back towards the rear of the platform but that is personal preference.
There are two issues here. Firstly, the width of the platform and how close the yellow line is to the edge of the platform narrowing even further the width of the main standing area on the platform and secondly a wheelchair user will be taking up much of the width of the platform when sitting parallel to the tracks. Please see the image displayed.
If the railways were to put in a dedicated area for wheelchair users and their companions it would be very helpful to both the differently abled person and the main body of travellers especially at rush hour. Perhaps this should be considered? The safety of everyone who travels by rail should be the priority in Network Rail’s assessment of supplying a service to differently abled and non disabled travellers and they should be talking to the groups in the area to discuss what should be done to offer the traveller an excellent experience.
What do you think? Let us have your comments and we will publish the better ones.