Over the last decade the number of rail passenger journeys in Great Britain has grown by approximately 70% with 1.71 billion passenger journeys in 2016/17. Despite increases in carrying capacity on the railways, overcrowding has been an issue of concern for some years, both on trains and in stations.
RSSB has previously issued good practice guides for crowd management at stations (2004) and on trains (2009). However, RSSB has recently identified several areas that have developed rapidly since these guidance documents were produced (see T1106 ‘Updating guidance on managing crowding at stations and on train services’, RSSB, 2018). These include an increased awareness of the importance of taking a whole system based approach to crowd management, developments in technology and social media in particular, and a better understanding of crowd characterisation.
On an initial analysis of Safety Management Information System data, RSSB study T605 (2009) estimated that crowding contributed to 1.4% of on-train risk and 0.5% of on-station risk, equating to approximately 0.4 Fatalities and Weighted Injuries (FWI) per year. However, there was considerable uncertainty around this estimate, because crowding is sometimes a contributory cause of an accident rather than the reported cause. Workshop discussions indicated that the FWI from crowding could be as high as 1.5 per year. Further analysis of SMIS data, together with input from the workshops, led to an adjusted estimated FWI figure of 0.5 per year.
Subsequent to this research, acute crowding incidents such as those seen at London Bridge, have led to many complaints from the public, some referring to perceived health impacts of crowding. The ORR felt necessary to respond to these concerns, especially given the prospect of further increases in passenger numbers. A 2015 meeting on crowd management, hosted by the ORR, led to four undergraduate human factors students undertaking knowledge searches that are intended to help update existing advice.
This project will extend and update the existing RSSB guidance to understand the impacts of crowding on health, safety and wellbeing, enabling the ORR to update its policy position on crowding, and will develop updated guidance on crowding management.
These outputs will enable a reductions in slips, trips and falls, reduced incidences of station overcrowding and better management when this does occur.