Two weeks ago it was revealed that the number of accidents at the Platform Train Interface had risen from 56 in 2003 to 298 in 2014 which seemed striking compared to the rise in passenger numbers; 942m in 2003, 1.26bn in 2014. RMT blamed the rise on a “poisonous cocktail of station staffing cuts and severe overcrowding” but I’m not sure that is the main cause. Looking at the figures for the intervening years in 2004 the number climbed to 91 but never rose higher than 103 until 2010 when it hit 119. 2011 it went up slightly to 123, then up to 154 in 2012 followed by a big jump to 223 in 2013 and finally all the way up to 298.
From my own observations I think the answer is a little less obvious; smart phones. Back in 2003 the most you could do with your mobile was call or send texts, today we can surf the net or listen to music on our phones and what I’ve noticed as I pull into the platforms in the last few years is a lot more people wearing headphones or starting at intently at their hand. In June 2012 LU started rolling out Wi-Fi on 40 stations, the year before we had that big jump in accidents, by the end of 2014 it was available on 150 and today there are only a few stations where you can’t get connected.
Rather than a lack of staff or overcrowding I suspect that more people are not paying attention to what is going on around them and consequently they don’t hear the chimes warning them that the doors are about to close or they don’t see the gap between train and platform. Technology may have given us smart phones but sadly it cannot make the people using them less stupid than they already are.