Study: How to improve safety at stations

Commuter train station.

The commuter train station in Järna. Safety has been improved with fences along the platform and so-called shark teeth to prevent access beyond the fences. Photo: Johan Fredin-Knutzén/Karolinska Institutet

Small, simple, and inexpensive measures can provide significant positive improvements in safety at commuter train stations. This is shown in a new study from VTI.

Trespassing, which sometimes leads to people being hit by a train, is in many ways a serious problem in the railway system. Trespassing is not only illegal and the cause of many delays, but also poses a serious work environment problem for train drivers. In addition, there is the human suffering and the costs to society that accidents entail.

In the study Evaluation of measures for safety and security at commuter train stations, VTI researcher Gunilla Björklund examines how a number of fairly simple measures have affected safety at two different commuter train stations – Järna outside Södertälje and Stockholm’s southern station.

The physical measures included so-called “shark teeth” to prevent access to the tracks, the installation of new fences, and warning signs about the danger of accessing the tracks. The various initiatives cost SEK 930,000 in Järna and SEK 1,650,000 at Stockholm’s southern station.

“The results indicate that simple and relatively inexpensive measures have had an effect. This should be an important strategy for reducing future trespassing and persons being hit by trains,” Gunilla Björklund summarises, and at the same time adds an important reservation:

“There have been a number of limitations in the study, which means, among other things, that one should be careful about generalising the results to other stations. The evaluation of measures at other stations and continued evaluation of the stations in this study is important to be able to determine the effect of different measures.”

In Järna, the installation of new fences, new “shark teeth”, and warning signs resulted in a significant reduction in trespassing and persons being hit by trains. The number of incidents decreased from an average of 0.94 per month before the measures were taken, to 0.32 incidents per month. Thus, a reduction of two-thirds.

At Stockholm’s southern station, the number of accidents and trespassing events dropped from an average of 2.09 incidents per month to 1.12 incidents. Over a period of three years, there was not a single person being hit by a train, compared to just over one per year earlier. At the same time, the delays also decreased sharply – from around 250 to just over 70 hours per year.

At the southern station, the measures consisted of fences along the platform, new shark teeth, so-called pyramid mats (anti-access panels) where pedestrians should not pass, and new warning signs.

“We also studied the stations in Årstaberg and Upplands Väsby. There were no, or only minor, changes made to those stations, nor was there any reduction in the number of incidents. This indicates that the measures have had an effect,” says Gunilla Björklund.

Structured observations, traveller surveys, employee surveys and interviews, analysis of events received by SL’s security centre, database analysis of trespassing and persons being hit by trains, and video analysis of trespassing were conducted.

Text: Mikael Sönne

Translation: CBG

The report (in Swedish): Utvärdering av åtgärder för säkerhet och trygghet på pendeltågsstationer (Diva) External link.

The pictures below shows the station in Järna after (pictures 1 and 2) and before (picture 3) the improvements.

Nytt räcke och hajtänder på stationen i Järna. Foto: Johan Fredin-Knutzén/Karolinska Institutet

Don't miss out on VTI's news – subscribe now!

Stay informed with the latest research and news from VTI. Sign up for newsletters, sent by e-mail four times a year.