BBC: "Train emergency alarm delays rise as more passengers call for help"

ta-toget

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I was slightly surprised to see that a thread had not already been made* about this BBC article (https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-51189119).

More passengers are using emergency alarm systems on trains, causing increasing delays, figures show.

Rail users said crowded trains and a lack of help for disabled people would lead to alarms being triggered.

Delays caused by alarms, some of which can stop trains, rose by a third between 2017 and 2019, according to the Rail Delivery Group (RDG).

It said passengers should read onboard instructions, ask staff and "use common sense" before reaching for alarms.

In the year to August 2019 passenger communication, door and emergency alarms were activated on trains more than 8,500 times, causing delays totalling more than 174,000 minutes.

This compared with just over 7,000 activations causing just under 132,000 minutes of delay in the year to August 2017.

....
Do you have any ideas what might be behind this, and what could be done to reduce activations (or delays due to them, at least)?

*Although it could just be that I missed it. If so, don't hesitate to inform me.
 
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ComUtoR

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Introduce more 'Call for Aid' instead.
Make sure that the Passcom is strictly for emergency only.
Make them electric and can be reset from the cab.
Educate passengers.
Fine people for misuse.
 

AngusH

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Unless I've missed something, this is not a good article and the figures are probably meaningless without more context.

The totals are just absolute numbers and don't seem to be measured against either passenger/km or number of journeys.
There may not actually be anything worse, it might even be an improvement, but I'm not convinced these statistics are enough to make any argument at all.

Some companies (GTR for example) saw very large increases in passenger counts during parts of these time periods, so maybe it's just because more people are travelling.
Or it could be because a number of new trains were introduced and they broke down/ behaved unexpectedly causing passengers to become anxious.

I think this article is mainly a public education exercise rather than a serious report.

Edit: Does anyone have a link to the original press release/statistics I couldn't find them on the RDG site or the ORR when I went looking...
 

sheff1

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Susie Homan, RDG's director of planning, engineering and operations, said: "Reducing the misuse of emergency alarms is a small but significant step we can all take to tackle delays and encourage passengers to consult onboard emergency instructions, ask a member of staff and use common sense before reaching for the alarm."
Presumably that will be the member of staff RDG members have been trying to get removed from trains over the last few years as, if you want to use the alarm to contact the driver, you need to reach for it.
 
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ComUtoR

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No thanks. Numerous delays caused every day by those things. Class 700s are a particular favourite but other stock can be almost as bad as well.
Any activation of a passcom or call for aid, needs to be deliberate, rather than accidental. You also need to change the onboard systems to show that this is a call for aid, rather than an emergency alarm.
 

tofl

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The other day I was on a train between Finsbury Park and St Pancras. We were already well into the tunnel, stopped on a red signal waiting for trains ahead to clear. The emergency alarm was activated by passengers because a lady had collapsed. It took a while for the passengers and the driver to be able to speak to each other - not sure why - we could hear the driver but he couldn't hear them. After a minute or two that problem seemed to go away and the passengers explained the situation to the driver, suggesting an ambulance be called (to St Pancras). He agreed to do this, announced to passengers what had happened, but explained nothing else could be done until we were in the station, and that in addition he needed to walk back through the train to reset the alarm, which he then did. Eventually we proceeded to St Pancras, where staff were waiting (not no first aider and no ambulance - no idea if it was called or not or simply delayed by traffic as this was morning peak). The driver thanked passengers for their concern but suggested in future better to wait until we reach a station. Pulling the alarm probably delayed us 5-10 minutes as a few slots were probably missed while driver was dealing, though cannot be sue of that obviously). While a natural reaction it seems a bit daft to pull the alarm while in a tunnel - the only two constructive purposes would be so that driver could radio ahead to station and an ambulance could be called (no mobile signal in tunnel) and to appeal to passengers with first aid knowledge (though this could have been done by word of mouth on the train). Perhaps there should be a "send driver a message" option that doesn't oblige driver to stop train and manually reset - or is that what a "call for aid" is? If that's what it is, it's not an option I was aware of and I am a regular traveller and like to think I pay attention.
Look forward to comments from those more knowledgeable than I.
 

baz962

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Depends on the traction these days too. On our 378 units , we have to walk back and manually reset . On the 710 unit's , we can reset from the cab. Most driver's still like to walk back and make sure someone really does or doesn't need help though.
 

gimmea50anyday

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Call for aids and emergency alarm or PassCom handles are activated far too easily on desiro stock. Somehow people in the toilet seem to think it’s the button for the hand drier even tho it’s a big red button and has the word “alarm”in big white letters on a red background right next to it, while those standing in doorways can easily set the passcoms off by leaning on them, being a pivot handle rather than a pull handle they only need a gentle push from a shoulder or backpack in the right place and they pop.
 

SlimJim1694

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How many of these delays were on DOO routes? If there's no guard it's a minimum 5 minute delay while you phone the box, key off, walk back, reset, walk back, phone the box, get moving. Obviously trains with guards dont have this problem.
 

baz962

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How many of these delays were on DOO routes? If there's no guard it's a minimum 5 minute delay while you phone the box, key off, walk back, reset, walk back, phone the box, get moving. Obviously trains with guards dont have this problem.
With us , we generally don't have to call the box back. The signaller usually say's , if you reset and it's just say someone leaning on it and no emergency , then just obey the signal. We don't key off either.
 

pdq

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I have leaned on the call for aid in the small 185 toilet. Admittedly I was, ahem, a little tipsy but the guard or driver just checked I was OK and I apologised. Very easy to do when not in the best of stability :oops: and the train moves around. I guess it's a balance between having a button that can be found and used easily when really needed but not so much that it gets set off just losing balance in the toilet.
 

Bletchleyite

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I have leaned on the call for aid in the small 185 toilet. Admittedly I was, ahem, a little tipsy but the guard or driver just checked I was OK and I apologised. Very easy to do when not in the best of stability :oops: and the train moves around. I guess it's a balance between having a button that can be found and used easily when really needed but not so much that it gets set off just losing balance in the toilet.
The position of the button on a Desiro small bog (350 or 185) is such that it's very easy to whack it with a rucksack, I've come close on a number of occasions.
 

Bantamzen

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I have leaned on the call for aid in the small 185 toilet. Admittedly I was, ahem, a little tipsy but the guard or driver just checked I was OK and I apologised. Very easy to do when not in the best of stability :oops: and the train moves around. I guess it's a balance between having a button that can be found and used easily when really needed but not so much that it gets set off just losing balance in the toilet.
I did similar on a 333 many moons ago..... :oops:
 

MCSHF007

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I've certainly witnessed too many incidents where passengers have missed their stop and pulled/pushed the alarm as the train leaves, also people "seeing people off" actually on the train who suddenly realise that the train is departing and rush for the alarm. These people should be fined mercilessly.
 

Islineclear3_1

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Not sure if "the railway" can ever stop this from happening. People will do whatever they think is right at the time.

Perhaps passengers need to be better educated that in DOO land for example, there is NO second person on the train and that the lone driver cannot just drop everything at the drop of a hat, secure the cab and walk back (maybe 12 carriages) to sort the problem quickly.

Perhaps if all the "call for aid" or emergency buttons were located behind a "break glass", passengers might think first before activating
 

185143

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I have leaned on the call for aid in the small 185 toilet. Admittedly I was, ahem, a little tipsy but the guard or driver just checked I was OK and I apologised. Very easy to do when not in the best of stability :oops: and the train moves around. I guess it's a balance between having a button that can be found and used easily when really needed but not so much that it gets set off just losing balance in the toilet.
I've done similar on a 156, though it was on rather rough track so not entirely due to the adult beverages I'd previously consumed.

I remember one night on the way home from work sitting in a tip down seat in the wheelchair space, noticing the cover over the CFA was open. Me being a responsible person (hahaha) decided to raise the flap to cover the CFA. However as I pushed the flap back into place, it activated the Call For Aid! I then found out why the cover was down in the first place...
 

Spartacus

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Yep, usual stuff. You can be pretty due that iss you get a pass-com on departing somewhere it's either someone who's missed their stop, just realised they're on the wrong train, or was too busy saying goodbye to realise their surroundings. You're going to the next station anyway, activating the pass-com just delays things.

I certainly think there's been an increase in accidental/mistaken toilet activations as old stock's been replaced by new. Hard to confuse a toilet flush handle on much old BR stock with anything else, but a push button with another push button if someone hasn't taken their glasses to the toilet with them..... And as others have said, modern push button ones are sometimes a bit too conveniently placed and easy to push with an elbow or rucksack if you lose your balance for whatever reason.
 

Chris M

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There is no information displayed to passengers that pressing the alarm button will require the train to stop, the driver to walk back through the train to reset, and then walk back through the train again to continue. In these circumstances it's not unreasonable in the slightest for passengers to think the alarm button is just a way to contact on-train staff in an emergency situation so that they can tan take the appropriate action in the circumstances - which would certainly include calling ahead to arrange an ambulance to meet the train at the next appropriate location.

Passengers cannot be expected to know which services have guards and which do not (and if they do whether they are in the same portion of the train as they are) or what the next suitable location for an ambulance to meet the train is (while it's not unreasonable to expect passengers to know what the train's next scheduled calling point is, it is not reasonable for them to know where they are in relation to any intermediate stations, whether any of them are suitable for an ambulance meeting a train, and if they are whether the train was scheduled to pass through on a line adjacent to a platform).

Really there needs to be two options:
1. There is an emergency situation that means this train (almost certainly) needs to stop before the next scheduled calling point.
2. There is an emergency situation that on-train staff need to know about but which does not require the train to be stopped right now.
 

packermac

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The trouble is most of the posters are looking at it from the point of view of understanding the effects.
LU after many years of a long campaigning have got the message across that it is better to wait until the next station where there will be staff (which of course there will be, but maybe not around the rest of the country).
But London is but a small part of the country and the obvious reaction of most of the public will to be to pull an alarm at a perceived emergency (which to them may be just a missed station).
I see little in the way of TOC's running campaigns explaining the reasons for using or not using the emergency system in specific circumstances. To the public they will not care if the train is DOO or has a second (or third staff member), neither should they really.
It will all take time, just look how many deaths it has taken to get a decent percentage of passengers to even notice where the nearest emergency exists are on an aircraft, let alone to watch the demo on how to use them.
 

Chris M

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Snowflake generation call for help for everything and anything, it will only get worse......
We are being bombarded with messages explicitly telling us to let people know if we see something that doesn't look right. There are fewer and less visible guards on trains, but simultaneously the emergency alarms are becoming far more common and far more visible. It's really not surprising that they are being used more often.
 

baz962

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We are being bombarded with messages explicitly telling us to let people know if we see something that doesn't look right. There are fewer and less visible guards on trains, but simultaneously the emergency alarms are becoming far more common and far more visible. It's really not surprising that they are being used more often.
something not looking right is not the same as , oh I was too busy on my phone and missed my stop . Out of the seven alarm calls I have had as a driver , not one has been for anything other than messing around . Couple of them were children and the parents were apologising etc . Not one emergency or perceived emergency.
 

BC

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Snowflake generation call for help for everything and anything, it will only get worse......
OK Boomer.

Whilst not a snowflake, and being a cynical gen X I found a young lady collapsed in the street the other day. Most people would just laugh it off and not call for help I guess. She seemed fine enough after all.

I called an ambulance anyway. She arrested just as the ambulance arrived which was a bit of luck. But yeah, lets call for help for nothing because thats how we always did it right....
 

Y Ddraig Coch

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OK Boomer.

Whilst not a snowflake, and being a cynical gen X I found a young lady collapsed in the street the other day. Most people would just laugh it off and not call for help I guess. She seemed fine enough after all.

I called an ambulance anyway. She arrested just as the ambulance arrived which was a bit of luck. But yeah, lets call for help for nothing because thats how we always did it right....
at what point did a collapsed person who is clearly a medical emergency and someone wanting to know why the toilet isn't working or to say they missed their stop become the same thing? If you cant tell the difference this is the issue we are talking about.

Seriously? :rolleyes::rolleyes::rolleyes::rolleyes:
 

HSTEd

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Any activation of a passcom or call for aid, needs to be deliberate, rather than accidental. You also need to change the onboard systems to show that this is a call for aid, rather than an emergency alarm.
Then someone is being dragged, passenger on the train pulls the passcom but it doesn't show as emergency and that person gets their arm torn off by a signal stanchion or tunnel or similar.
They then bleed out on the trackside before anyone can help them.
 

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