AN ELDERLY disabled woman fell onto train tracks breaking her hip after her wheelchair rolled down a sloping platform, an investigation has found.

The 71-year-old from Benfleet’s carer failed to apply her brakes and she rolled 8ft 6ins down the platform at Southend Central Station before falling 4ft onto the tracks, the Rail Accident Investigation Branch has found.

Neither the carer nor the member of station staff, who had escorted the pair on to the platform, noticed the wheelchair start to move slowly forward towards the platform edge.

The RAIB said that at the time of the platforms' construction there was no specific requirement for platforms to slope away from the railway.

The report said the railway industry had generally recorded previous incidents of a similar nature as due solely to errors by the individuals concerned.

"As a consequence, the industry had not recognised the part that sloping platforms had played in the incidents," the report said.

Rail worker Alan Chittock, who pulled the woman to safety from the path of an oncoming train, was suspended for breaching health and safety regulations.