Mind the gap! (except in Perth where they seem to have no gap)
On Sunday Channel 7 showed this CCTV footage shot at Southern Cross station. A toddler slipped between the train and the platform.
I found it quite difficult to watch, but there’s an obvious safety message here which was emphasised in Monday’s followup story: you do need to take the utmost care when boarding and alighting trains, especially where small children are involved.
It’s also important to push prams onto trains, but pull them backwards off when alighting, so you can see that the wheels have made it across the gap.
Mind the gap
Fact is, in Melbourne and many cities, there are some significant gaps between trains and platforms — particularly at curved platforms.
But here’s something I found fascinating: in Perth, there’s virtually no gap.
I’m not sure how they’ve managed it, nor if it applies to every station, but every train I saw was dead level with the platform, and with only a few centimetres of gap. In fact I tried stepping deliberately half on the train and half on the platform with my shoe at one station — no problems.
How do they do it? (The bits sticking out from the trains are in a fixed position.)
I suppose it comes down to much more rigid design and engineering standards, a smaller (and in many parts significantly newer) network, and less variations in the fleet.
One benefit is that it seems wheelchairs are self-loaded — as can be seen on page 22 of this brochure, they don’t need to get the driver to deploy a ramp, which speeds things up.
Melbourne are trying this with modifications to some platforms — this one is at Flinders Street platform 1.