The accident occurred at about 11:35 hrs, and involved train 2V29, the 11:00 hrs Southeastern service from London Cannon Street to Hayes (Kent). It involved a passenger whose bag became trapped in the closing doors of a train from which she was alighting, and was then dragged under the train as it departed. The passenger suffered life-changing injuries.
The train was formed of two four-car Class 465 units coupled together. The doors involved were the rear passenger doors on the last vehicle of the leading 465 unit. The train was being driven by a trainee driver, under the supervision of an instructor driver.
At West Wickham station train drivers are responsible for checking that it is safe for the train to depart after the doors have been closed. As is normal at many such stations, no other members of staff are provided on the train or platform to assist with train dispatch. To assist train drivers view the side of the train, CCTV monitors are positioned next to the stopping position of the driving cab to enable the driver to see the train in the platform.
The train arrived on time at West Wickham and a passenger alighted from the third coach of the leading unit of the train. Shortly afterwards, the passenger involved in the accident opened the rear door on the fourth coach of the leading unit and started to alight. Before the doors were fully open, they, together with the door that had already been opened on the third coach, began to close. Although the passenger was able to get through the doors, the strap of a bag she was carrying became trapped in the closing doors.
Neither the trainee driver nor the instructor saw that a person was trapped by the train doors before the train was driven away from the platform.
While the passenger was still attempting to free the strap from between the doors, the train began to move and she was pulled along the platform before losing her balance. The passenger was then dragged off the platform and under the train, falling onto the track between the fourth and fifth vehicles.
Our investigation will consider the circumstances of the accident, including the design and operation of the doors, the associated control system and the actions of those involved.
Preliminary testing conducted by RAIB has revealed the potential for passengers to be misled, by the ‘open doors’ button remaining illuminated after the driver has initiated the door closure sequence, into thinking that the doors will open for sufficient time for them to safely join or alight from the train (particularly where the hustle alarm is not sounding because no doors have been opened in that coach). In such cases the door can then suddenly close, with considerable force and without warning, onto a passenger.
For this reason, RAIB has issued advice to all train operating companies urging them to check for the presence of this design feature in their own rolling stock. Where the same design feature is identified, RAIB has advised that consideration be given to ways of reducing this risk, including the potential to change the door control system. It has also advised that operators re-brief their train crew and station dispatchers of the need for a final check that the side of the train is clear before the train starts its journey.
Our investigation is independent of any investigation by the railway industry or by the industry’s regulator, the Office of Rail and Road.
We will publish its findings, including any recommendations to improve safety, at the conclusion of its investigation. This report will be available on our website.
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