A TRAIN firm has introduced new safety measures after an elderly, disabled woman in a wheelchair rolled down a sloping platform and onto tracks.
Train and station operator c2c has introduced ten new safety measures, after the 71-year-old from Benfleet, broke her hip and narrowly escaped being hit by an oncoming train, at Southend Central Station.
Among the measures are new signs showing how to park wheelchairs and station staff being trained how to stop trains after the incident on August 28, 2013.
Yesterday, the Rail Accident Investigation Branch published a report into the incident, recommending Network Rail, which is responsible for railway infrastructure, and c2c, which is responsible for managing the station, tighten up the management of the risk the platform slope poses.
A c2c spokesman said: “We welcome the report and that the safety investigators have recognised the ten key actions c2c has undertaken since last year’s accident.
“This includes adding signs on all platforms showing where to park wheelchairs, parallel to the tracks. We are also briefing all staff on how to stop trains in an emergency.”
A Network Rail spokeswoman said: “We have already started to address the issues raised in the report and will carefully consider the recommendations and take any necessary further action.”
The report revealed the woman’s carer failed to apply the brakes and she rolled down the slope, designed so rainwater can run off the platform.
Station worker Alan Chittock, who escorted the pair to the platform, was unable to call to stop a train approaching the station, but jumped on to the tracks and hauled the woman to safety.
The driver, less than two minutes from the platform, slowed the train after spotting Mr Chittock and members of the public ahead.
Station operator c2c initially suspended Mr Chittock, but he was reinstated after an Echo story on the punishment sparked national uproar.
The report said: “The member of staff contacted the booking office clerk using his radio, advising him of the accident and requesting the line be blocked.
“The booking office clerk, on receiving the message, could not immediately contact the signaller.
“The telephone number for the signalling centre had been handwritten on an information poster in the booking office, but sunlight had faded the writing so it was illegible.
“The booking clerk contacted the c2c service delivery centre located with the Upminster signalling centre and obtained the telephone number for the signaller.
By then the train was entering the station.
“Train drivers on the up line approaching Southend Central have a good view of the station.
“When the train driver was contacted by the signaller, he had reduced speed for the station stop and already observed people on the track ahead.”
No signs alerted customers to the slope and neither the carer, nor Mr Chittock, noticed the woman rolling towards the tracks.
The report also suggested Network Rail review how slopes at stations can cause accidents, but the platform is unlikely to be levelled.