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Railway station.  Image: ThinkStock

10 Oct 2013

Loughborough research to help reduce accidents at UK railway stations

Researchers at Loughborough University are hoping to help reduce the number of accidents involving elderly passengers at railway stations across the country.

Rail users aged over 70 are five times more likely to have an accident when travelling by train than the rest of the population.  The majority of these accidents occur at stations and over 66 per cent involve slips, trips and falls.

With an aging population and growing numbers of rail passengers, it is vital that action is taken to try and reduce the number of accidents affecting the elderly.

To help the rail industry gain a better understanding of this issue and how it will be affected by changing demographics, researchers from the Loughborough Design School are looking at current risk models used by the sector and how these can be future proofed.

Dr Patrick Waterson, who is leading the project, explains: “To be able to tackle this issue we first need to understand what is happening now and what is likely to happen in the future.  We need to ensure that the current risk models are providing an accurate picture.”

The team will also be investigating how risks to elderly passengers can be ‘designed’ out of existing and future railway stations, for example through the introduction of non-slip flooring, better access to lifts and improved stair/escalator design.  A key part of this area of the project will involve looking outside the sector to discover how other industries tackle the issue.

“A good example of this is the cruise ship business,” adds Dr Waterson.  “A large proportion of people who holiday on cruise ships are elderly, so we are interested to see how companies operating in this area design their ships to take into account the age of their travellers and what lessons we can learn for rail passengers.”

Another key element of the research will be speaking direct to older rail users to gain an insight into their experiences of station use.  The research team will be setting up interviews and focus groups which they hope will shed further light on how stations can be improved to make them safer for the elderly.

The project is being funded by Rail Research UK Association and RSSB.  Anyone interested in taking part in the interviews and focus groups should email Dr Waterson at or call 01509 228478.


Notes for editors

Article reference number: PR 13/187

  • Rail Research UK Association (RRUKA) is a partnership between Britain’s rail industry and UK universities. It was set up in 2010 to be an effective bridge between industry and universities. It is funded by RSSB and Network Rail. For more information see
  • RSSB builds industry-wide consensus and facilitates the resolution of difficult cross-industry issues. It provides knowledge, analysis, a substantial level of technical expertise and powerful information and risk management tools. This delivers a unique mix to the industry across a whole range of subject areas – with the aim of:

    - Driving out unnecessary cost
    - Improving business performance
    - Where reasonably practicable, continuously improving the level of safety in the rail industry
  • RSSB manages the rail industry’s research and development (R&D) programme, which covers ‘systems’ issues across the railway, engineering interfaces within the railway, and interfaces with other parts of the community and society. It’s also instrumental in supporting the development of a future vision for the railways – including its technical strategy and sustainable development - and assessing how that vision can best be delivered. A major benefit for industry is that the programme represents an efficient and cost-effective means for the industry to research, develop and problem-solve whilst retaining ownership and direction of the products through RSSB.

  • Loughborough is one of the country’s leading universities, with an international reputation for research that matters, excellence in teaching, strong links with industry, and unrivalled achievement in sport and its underpinning academic disciplines.

    It was awarded the coveted Sunday Times University of the Year 2008-09 title, and is consistently ranked in the top twenty of UK universities in national newspaper league tables. It has been voted England's Best Student Experience for six years running in the Times Higher Education league, and in recognition of its contribution to the sector, the University has been awarded six Queen's Anniversary Prizes.

    It is a member of the 1994 Group of 11 leading research-intensive universities. The Group was established in 1994 to promote excellence in university research and teaching. Each member undertakes diverse and high-quality research, while ensuring excellent levels of teaching and student experience.

Contact for all media enquiries

Judy Wing
Senior PR Officer
Loughborough University
T: 01509 228697