BRITISH infrastructure manager Network Rail (NR) has been issued with an improvement notice by rail regulator the Office of Rail and Road (ORR), after the company failed to implement effective measures at London’s Euston station to prevent risks to passengers and others during instances of crowd surges and overcrowding.

ORR inspected the station in September after analysing CCTV footage of three incidents of concern in the summer, which showed overcrowding reaching unacceptable levels and a lack of crowd control. While there were reports of minor injuries, the incidents were found to have had the potential for more serious consequences.

During this site visit, the ORR team found there was no recorded, risk-assessed plan for two of the pinch points inside the station, where crowding is most concentrated. ORR says the control measures that were in place to manage crowds were inadequate in some areas and the signage and layout to help control the flow of passengers was also unacceptable.

“Where there is rail disruption there is the potential for crowding and surges at stations,” says HM chief inspector of railways, Mr Ian Prosser. “This improvement notice is a reminder that comprehensive risk assessments must be in place to improve crowd management. NR understands where it needs to improve, and it is imperative that station management and train operators work together to do everything in their power to reduce the risk of serious incidents.”

NR has accepted the findings and is now working with operators and ORR to develop and implement effective mitigations and controls for crowd management at Euston.

“Managing a popular and busy station like Euston is a daily challenge, a challenge that our dedicated cross-industry team rises to each day, always putting passengers’ wellbeing and safety at the forefront of their minds,” says NR’s West Coast South Route head of stations and passenger experience, Mr Simon Bennett.

“Our team, along with the ORR, want to do more, which is why we have cleared the concourse of shops to make more room for our passengers. We’ve fitted new state-of-the-art information boards, both inside and outside the station. We’re also now trialling earlier boarding of services with our train operating colleagues to help reduce crowding at peak times.

“The ORR has asked us to look at some other specific areas and our team, along with our train operating colleagues, is already on the case making further improvements.”

Responsible for the management of major stations in Britain, NR is in the process of replacing its arrivals and departures boards at Euston with high-definition passenger information screens in the middle of the station concourse, with the old boards now used to display advertising.