Crowd Control A Problem

Another injury aboard an overcrowded Sunbury train to Flinders Street on April 29, 2014 has reignited concerns over the safety of train commuters during peak hour. 

Train congestion in the city led to major delays on the 9.26 am Flinders Street train at Tottenham station, resulting in a larger number of people boarding the train.

An Asian woman suffered a minor epileptic seizure and was accidentally pushed by other train commuters trying to board the train causing her to hit her head against one of the train’s standing poles.

Luciana Nguyen, 18, a witness to the accident, said that she saw the woman exit the train “holding tissues on her head with blood on it”.

“I felt really bad for her… maybe this wouldn’t have happened if the trains weren’t so crowded. 

“I saw people push their way through… She was so small among the crowds of people.”

Melbourne’s growing population is predicted to lead to an increase in overcrowding on trains. Bureau figures estimated that in 2012, Melbourne’s population was 4.35 million – a 27 per cent increase from 2000.    

Overcrowded

The typical look of a Sunbury train going through the City Loop during peak hour.

The most recent statistics published by the Australian Institute of Welfare and Health in 2009 found that the highest number of accidents on trains were related to rail users as they accounted for 66.5 per cent of serious injuries on transport in Australia. Being injured while boarding or alighting from a train was recorded to be the most common circumstance of injury at 27.3 per cent in the same year. In January 2013, Herald Sun further reported that 2200 people had been injured on trains in the past 27 months in Victoria.

Public Transport Users Association president Tony Morton told the Herald Sun that overcrowding was the main source and had exacerbated by swiping on and off using myki.

“A lot of people try to commit suicide on the train. We get drivers falling asleep on the wheel, signal failures, fires.

“We get a lot of seizures on trains. Sick people on trains,” said David Petrov, a station officer at Sunshine railway station, when asked about other common reported train accidents in his 25-year experience.

The protocol for accidents on trains requires that Victoria’s rail operators report all rail incidents to Transport Safety Victoria following the Rail Safety Act 2006.

Station officers are first to alert the police on the accident, wait for the ambulance and write a report that would then be sent to the Head Office, Mr Petrov said.

He also said “constant upgrades to the system and adding more trains” were possible ways to improve the safety of passengers on trains in Victoria.

Metro has been working on the Metro Rail Capacity Project since 2009 aiming to let an extra 35,000 commuters onto trains during peak hour and reducing congestion on St Kilda Road trams.