23 Nov 2023
A national campaign to tackle the number one threat to light rail safety is taking shape following pioneering research into the behaviour of pedestrians around tramways.
Safety experts from across the sector gathered in Birmingham this week to discuss a study that’s providing invaluable insights into the risks of collisions between trams and members of the public.
Commissioned by the Light Rail Safety and Standards Board, the research used discreet filming, surveys, and interviews with pedestrians to identify reasons why some were missing existing measures put in place by operators to avoid such incidents.
“Trams are inherently one of the safest modes of public transport, but the behaviour of other road users remains the most common cause of accidents,” explained Carl Williams, LRSSB Chief Executive.
“Our own risk modelling, based on information provided by operators, has found that the number of collisions involving pedestrians has remained constant over many years, despite huge improvements in safety across all other areas of tramway operations.
“This latest research identified a host of factors at play, from pedestrians being complacent about crossing in front of a moving tram, to distractions from mobile phones and a general lack of situational awareness.”
During a meeting at the LRSSB’s headquarters in Birmingham, safety and communications professionals from networks across the UK joined representatives from the Office of Rail and Road and the LRSSB to discuss the findings with researchers from independent company Mind Field.
Together, they also laid the foundations for a future campaign targeting pedestrian behaviour, while looking for practical ways to alert them to risks at potential accident ‘hotspots’.
“These are important first steps towards further enhancing tramway safety,” Carl said. “The event also highlighted the benefits of our recently upgraded Tram Accident and Incident Reporting system, and its ability to provide the vital data needed for models that can then identify where improvements can be made.
“While initially focusing on pedestrians, the research will also feed into other future projects, potentially aimed at other road users, including cyclists, e-scooter users and motorists,” he added.
Pictured at the National Safety Campaign event in Birmingham are, from left to right, Carl Williams, LRSSB Chief Executive; Ian Skinner, Head of Non-Mainline Railways at the ORR; Joanna Brown and Hannah Tales from Mind Field; and Dominic Long from the ORR.