TRAIN operator Merseyrail has been told to reduce the platform gaps and improve emergency stop systems following the death of teenager Georgia Varley.
The Rail Accident Investigation Branch (RAIB) has published the conclusion to its investigation after train guard Christopher McGee was jailed for five years for Georgia’s manslaughter earlier this month.
Sixteen-year-old Birkenhead Sixth Form College student Georgia, who had been celebrating her friend’s 18th birthday at a house party in Hoylake, fell between the platform and train at James Street station and was killed instantly in the October 2011 accident.
The RAIB concluded the cause of the accident was that McGee sent the “ready to start” code and no subsequent “stop” code while Georgia, from Moreton, was leaning against the train. It said she fell when the train started to move and she fell on to the track because the gap was wide enough to fall through.
The RAIB report makes three recommendations to Merseyrail. It asks for changes to equipment and how staff work to allow the person responsible for dispatching the train to “observe the platform and train without interruption for as long as possible, ideally until the train has left the platform”.
The report also said the dispatcher should be able to stop the train quickly in an emergency. It also recommended that Merseyrail reduce the risks of falls by blocking the gap between the train and platform edge.
“Platform edge gap fillers and vehicle body side panels should be included in the evaluation, the outcome of which should be a plan to implement measures when appropriate to do so, for example when trains or the infrastructure are changed, improved or replaced,” said the report.
Merseyrail said: “Following the publication of the RAIB report about the accident at James Street station on 22 October 2011, Merseyrail's thoughts and deepest sympathies remain with the family and friends of Georgia Varley.
“The safety of passengers remains of paramount importance to us and we respect the analysis and conclusions of this independent report.
“Merseyrail will respond constructively to the recommendations made to us, believing that the report contributes positively to the continuous improvement of safety, not only on our own system, but throughout the UK rail network.”