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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 P.Waterson@lboro.ac.uk or call 01509 228478.

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