Call for action at Sutton Coldfield train stations to support passengers with sight loss

Sutton Coldfield's MP is calling for safety measures for passengers with sight loss to be improved as a matter of urgency at stations serving the Royal Town.

Andrew Mitchell MP
Andrew Mitchell MP

Concerns have been raised that Blake Street, Four Oaks and Butlers Lane stations don’t have warning tactile surfaces on the edge of their platforms.

Such surfaces are vital for those with sight loss and warn navigate their way around platforms and help warn blind and partially sighted people them when they are close to a platform edge.

At Sutton Coldfield station, while some surfaces have been improved, the tactile surfaces do not cover the entire length of all platform edges. Now Sutton MP Andrew Mitchell has called for action.

“I have written to West Midlands Railway to ask the company to improve accessibility for passengers with sight loss,” he said.

“It is welcome that a significant amount of investment is improving local trains and bringing new carriages onto the network. However we must ensure that stations are accessible and safe. Improving platform safety and ensuring that tactile edges are installed would make a huge difference to those living with sight loss and

“I urge West Midlands Railway to make improvements to ensure that stations right across our local network are safe for those with sight loss.”

Eleanor Thompson, head of policy and public affairs at the Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB), said: “Tactile paving is not just an accessibility measure, it is fundamental to the health and safety of passengers and pedestrians who are blind or partially sighted.

“In today’s society, there should be no train platforms without tactile paving as they have the ability to save someone’s life.”

“We are calling on Network Rail and the Department for Transport to take urgent action in making stations safer, including installing tactile paving where it is needed across the network.”

In February 2020, a visually impaired passenger had a fatal accident after falling from the platform edge at a station in South East London and was struck by an approaching train.

The RAIB investigation found that “The platform edge was not fitted with tactile surface markings intended to assist visually impaired people. This is a possible causal factor”.

A West Midlands Railway spokesman said: “Running a safe, reliable railway which is accessible for all our passengers is our top priority.

"We are working closely with Network Rail to identify available funding so we can introduce additional tactile paving at stations across our network.”

“We urge any passengers who may require assistance while travelling to book ahead using our Passenger Assist service by calling 0800 024 8998 or going online.”

Funding for the installation of tactile paving at existing railway stations is provided by the Department for Transport, via Network Rail and said millions of pounds would be invested over the coming years

Network Rail said : “We want all passengers to travel safely, independently and with confidence, including those who are blind and partially sighted.

“We’re working with the Department for Transport to secure funding and deliver the platform upgrades in order of priority, so more passengers benefit in the shortest period of time.”

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