Transport CommitteeWritten evidence from David Pickett (DAT 06)

At my local station [Earlsfield] there are seven different platform to train floor heights, ranging from 9 inches to 2 feet 6 inches. The maximum extreme height difference occurs regularly on a Sunday morning when Network Rail close the local lines for maintenance and the down fast platform is in use for normal services, it is also in use in emergencies should there be a problem with the local lines at any other time. It is very difficult for the elderly to climb in and out of the train. There is no access for disabled people on the island platform until [hopefully] December 2012.

The station was opened in 1884 and it is at present having its first refurbishment courtesy of Sadiq Kahn when he was transport minister.

I think that there should be a standard platform to train floor height laid down and platforms corrected to this standard. This distance may have to be varied on account of the maximum speed of the trains which pass the platform edge to comply with the kinetic envelope of the train. The modifications could be carried out as part of the platform lengthening programme, and retro fitted with those platforms that have already been lengthened.

A further point is that on curved platforms the horizontal gap between the platform edge varies according to the position of the doors in relation to the king pin of the train. Typical example being Class 444 [23 m length] where the single plug door is located almost at the end of the coach, and Class 450 [20 m length] where the double sliding doors are located one-third along the length of the coach. In future designs could it be considered that the doors either be at the end of the coach or say, one sixth from the end of the coach. This would minimise the gap between the train and platform edge.

An additional point concerning SWT Class 455 units, [which might apply to other units] it is regularly announced that the guard is a certain position within the train should passengers require assistance please contact them. There are two comments about this statement:

1.Should you be in a different unit to the guard there is no way of contacting them since the connecting corridor door is locked out of passenger use. In addition you have to hammer very hard on the locked door to attract the guards attention. This happened to me when a window was smashed by a piece of ballast being kicked up by another train. I would assume that if a disabled passenger require assistance they would have to get an able-bodied person to get the guard for them, since if they were wheelchair bound there does not seem to be enough room between the seats to get to the guards compartment.

2.My understanding is that the doors are kept locked for safety reasons in that there are buttons that the passenger could touch and possibly affect the operation of the train. Since the units are about to be refurbished for a second time could this be corrected at the time of refurbishment. The guards compartment and doors were used for passenger use [when not in use by the guard] in the prototype 2 and 4 PEP units, so it is not asking too much to operate in this mode of operation.

November 2012

Prepared 13th September 2013