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Tuesday 17 July 2018

Smartphones are blamed for train station accidents

Stock picture
Stock picture
Paul Melia

Paul Melia

The number of slips, trips and falls at train stations has sharply risen due to distracted commuters looking at their smartphones.

Irish Rail said the number of incidents involving passengers and third parties has increased from 202 in 2015 to 261 last year, due to "greater sources of distraction".

"The majority of injuries incurred were minor in nature, occurring from slips, trips and falls at stations," the company's Safety Report 2016 said.

"Elsewhere, similar trends have been linked to changes in passenger behaviour, including the increased use of smartphones in inappropriate situations."

The report claimed that Irish Rail is among the safest railways in Europe, but that a number of challenges must be addressed.

They include the installation of automatic train protection systems across the fleet, which will cost €155m and take up to seven years to implement. Already in place on the Dart network, they automatically apply the brakes on trains that are speeding and are at risk of passing signals at danger. The Department of Transport has approved funding.

The report said that in 2016, 13 signals were passed at danger, compared with 15 the previous year. The numbers have fallen by two-thirds compared with a decade ago.

It also noted that the number of cars entering the railway at level crossings has fallen, with 11 dangerous crossings closed.

Some 490 bridges out of 5,100 are at risk of scour, or foundations being eroded from water. Scour is the reason why the Malahide viaduct collapsed in August 2009. The bridges are subject to routine inspection.

The report also addressed concerns raised by safety watchdog the Commission for Railway Regulation (CRR) about the company's attitude to safety.

Irish Rail says the CRR reflected "some tensions" between both organisations at senior level, and it had "reiterated" its commitment to a "positive working relationship". A report commissioned by CRR has since found the company's attitude to safety is "sound".

Irish Independent

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