New London Tube Train Blamed for Three-Fold Increase in Passenger Accidents

Tube train
Two girls wait for a train at London Underground's Westminster station, February 28, 2012. New figures released this week reveal 307 incidents in which commuters fell into the gap between the train and the platform in 2015. Dan Kitwood/Getty Images

A new design of London Underground train has been blamed for a three-fold increase in accidents in which passengers fell into the gap between the carriage and the platform, according to the Evening Standard.

In total, 307 such incidents were reported in 2015—three times as many as before the S-stock trains were introduced. There were 119 incidents in 2010, the year the train made its debut; 123 in 2011; 154 in 2012; 224 in 2013; and 300 in 2014.

The new £1.5 billion Tube trains feature walk-through carriages and better wheelchair access. However, the new design means that there is a bigger gap between the train and the platform.

Baker Street station has seen the most passengers falling onto the tracks, with 52 commuters doing so in just one week in 2015. In March, a 3-year-old girl fell into the gap as she walked onto a northbound Metropolitan line train. She was promptly rescued by onlookers.

To reduce the number of accidents, blue warning lights have been introduced at Baker Street, making passengers aware of the larger gap between the train and the platform.

Steve White, London Underground's operations director, said: "While the Tube is rightly recognized as one of the safest metros in the world, we are not complacent and are working hard to further minimize 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."

Transport for London (TfL) admitted that the number of incidents had increased but said the falls were caused by "distraction from use of smartphones, rushing [and] intoxication," the Evening Standard reported. "Before the introduction of new trains, each platform is individually risk assessed and ways to mitigate any incidents are regularly reviewed, such as the adjustment of platform nosing stones to realign how the trains stand at the platform."

S-Stock trains were introduced on the Metropolitan line in 2010, the Circle and Hammersmith & City lines in 2012 and are being rolled out to the District line at present.

The National Union of Rail, Maritime and Transport Workers (RMT), Britain's largest transport trade union, has called for an investigation into the rising number of accidents on the Tube after a woman trapped her foot between the platform and a Jubilee line train at Canning Town two weeks ago.

"RMT receives regular reports of Tube overcrowding reaching dangerous levels and that situation is getting worse as more and more passengers pile into services that are already running flat out," RMT general secretary Mick Cash said. "Cutting back on the platform and station staff who manage emergencies is a reckless and lethal gamble with passenger safety."

Since 2003, the number of journeys on the Tube has increased by over a third. In December 2015, a record 4.8 million passenger journeys were recorded in one day.