Platform gaps

Information about railway station platform to train gaps and stepping distances.

Over the years different types of rolling stock have been introduced and platforms constructed to different heights. This has meant that the stepping distance between platform edge and train coaches can vary at some stations around the network.

If the gap is too big it can be a risk to passengers getting on and off trains. This is particularly the case for disabled and elderly passengers and people with small children and push chairs.

Can the problem be solved?

Opportunities should be taken, for example, where other station improvement work is being done, to improve all platforms not conforming to current accepted good practice. The Department of Transport has produced guidance on Accessible train and station design for disabled people.

Network Rail has an ongoing programme identifying problem locations and developing an action plan. This is a risk based programme aimed at carrying out improvement works at the highest priority locations first.

We accept that in many cases, particularly at platforms not used very much, upgrading may take time. There needs to be priority about the risk, the extent of the defects and the number of passengers exposed to the risk. It should be noted that it may be impossible to eliminate some platform gaps because they are located on track curves.

Are there laws protecting passengers?

Under current health and safety law, railway operators should reduce the risk from gaps as low as is reasonably practicable. For existing station platforms, a judgement has to be made as to whether it would be reasonably practicable to reduce the gaps and whether the cost of taking action would be disproportionate to the level of risk.