Ealing Broadway Station User Considers Legal Action

82-year-old Rolf Kern blames platform gap for injured leg

Rolf Kern explains the problem to a BBC reporter
Rolf Kern explains the problem to a BBC reporter

June 13, 2024

An 82-year-old man is considering legal action after he injured his leg on the platform at Ealing Broadway station.

His shin was so badly gashed when he tried to board an Elizabeth line train that he had to be taken to hospital.

He told BBC London that he believed the cause of his injury was the unacceptably high gap between the platform and the train.

He said, "Normally, I take the left or right-hand side and use the handrail. But this time I happened to be in the middle and I missed the step and fell flat on the floor. I immediately realised I'd hurt myself very badly.

"The wound was very bad. It was a two-inch gap under the knee and the skin was actually totally detached. It's very, very serious.

"It is the sheer fact that the step is 12 to 14 inches high, which I find for a modern, new line where the government invested so much money is unacceptable."

He is appealing for any witnesses to come forward and anybody who has also been injured at the station to get in touch.

Earlier this year, Eric Leach broke a bone in his foot at Ealing Broadway station stepping down from the train onto the platform. He too blamed the vertical gap for what happened describing it as a ‘death trap’.

Eric Leach on the platform at Ealing Broadway where he fell
Eric Leach on the platform at Ealing Broadway where he fell. Picture: BBC

The platforms at Ealing Broadway station were previously used by Great Western Railway services and are owned by Network Rail. Although current safety guidance stipulates a horizontal gap no larger than 27.5cm (10.8in) or a vertical gap of more than 23cm (9in) in platforms this was put in place after the construction of the local station and does not apply retrospectively meaning that many stations across the capital’s transport network have this issue. There are reportedly hundreds of incidents involving platform gaps in London every year although TfL says that this represents fewer that one incident in every four million journeys and only 2% of these resulted in serious injury.

The government's Office for Road and Rail says, "Under current health and safety law, railway operators should reduce the risk from gaps as far as is reasonably practicable.

"For existing station platforms, a judgement has to be made as to whether it would be reasonably practicable.”

A Transport for London (TfL) spokesperson said, “We are sorry that some customers have sustained injuries at Ealing Broadway station and we wish them a full and speedy recovery.

"Safety is our number-one priority and while the height difference between the train and the platform complies with the required safety standards on all Elizabeth line platforms, we recognise that it can be larger at some older stations, such as Ealing Broadway.

“We provide manual boarding ramps for anyone who requires them and staff are available for anyone who needs assistance at any of our stations.

"We also make on-train announcements reminding passengers to mind the gap when leaving the train. We continue to work with our operator, MTR-Elizabeth line, and our infrastructure provider, Network Rail, to ensure all our stations remain safe and accessible for all our customers.”

The gap at Ealing Broadway is estimated to be 12 inches which is above current guidelines. Picture: BBC

MTREL, which operates the Elizabeth line, is understood to be investigating the incident and has been in contact with Mr. Kern.

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