Union Station Platform Action Plan

Introduction

On April 28, 2015, there was an accidental death on a GO Train platform at Union Station. Following this incident, Metrolinx reviewed all of its safety measures for managing passenger volumes and movement on Union Station platforms. Metrolinx also explored improvements to existing measures and proposed new measures wherever possible, resulting in a set of recommendations that formed the Union Station Platform Action Plan.

 The recommendations in this plan build upon existing planning work that puts passenger safety first. This work includes:

  • making sure all available tracks and platforms are used to spread passengers out over a larger area, making it easier to get on and off trains.;
  • using double-sided boarding whenever possible to give passengers more ways to get on and off trains;
  • considering available platform space when introducing or changing train trips to meet ridership demands; and
  • regularly studying passenger volumes and movement to reduce crowding and identify areas for improvement.

GO Transit also monitors the effect of special events, delays, cancellations and other platform changes to ensure the right measures are in place to move people safely and efficiently to and from Union Station. Examples of this include introducing extra standby trains during major sporting and entertainment events downtown, and carefully scheduling the arrival and departure of all train trips to provide passengers with enough time to get on and off the trains.

Objectives of the plan

The purpose of this plan is to enhance passenger safety by:

  • discouraging passengers from walking along the yellow safety strip at the edge of the platform
  • managing the number of passengers on platforms and the time spent waiting on platforms;
  • minimizing passenger lineups so they do not block travel paths along platforms;
  • minimizing the number of passengers waiting in narrow platform areas, such as those near stairs and elevators; and
  • increasing general safety awareness among passengers.

Recommendations

Immediate enhancements

Action Status Next Steps

Introduce “no standing zones” in areas where there is less than 50 inches of space between the platform edge and nearby structures, such as stairwells and elevators, and ensure these areas are identified with standard signage.

Complete

Signage has been installed to indicate no standing zones.

An enhanced “no standing zone” visual has been painted on the platform areas in the spring of 2016 and again in spring 2017. The signs were also being replaced as an enhanced visual.

Subject to specific exceptions, prohibit storage of any kind on platforms.

Construction materials and tools that are not in use and not required for employee safety are to be removed from platforms.

Note: To balance safety concerns, certain exceptions will apply. For example salt storage will be reintroduced at either end of the platforms away from passenger circulation during winter months.

Complete

Regular audits will generally coincide with the completion of construction phases and when seasonal equipment is introduced (or no longer required).

In 2016 and 2017, audits were conducted seasonally. Another audit will be conducted prior to winter and prior to the next phase of construction.

During fair weather, prop open doors to stairwells to enable better passenger flows to and from the concourse and teamways.

Ongoing

This practice will be upheld and reintroduced each spring.

Maintain a standard, 24-inch wide yellow safety strip on all Union Station platform edges at all times, including periods of renovation and construction.

The yellow safety strip should:

  • be the same design across all platforms;
  • be highly visible;
  • be permanent; and
  • provide a tactile warning to pedestrians.

 If a permanent safety strip that meets these criteria cannot be maintained due to construction or other factors, a painted yellow safety strip will be applied in the interim.

Ongoing

As construction continues at Union Station, yellow strips are being refreshed as needed to meet the standard of 24 inches. Permanent tactile surfaces will be installed when construction in a given area is completed.

Modify design practices to:

  • exclude the yellow safety strip when calculating usable platform space; and
  • consider specific points of congestion (e.g., no standing zones) when determining the extent of platform crowding.

Complete

This practice has been put in place. The Metrolinx Design Requirements Manual has been updated and amended.

Trim certain sections of select platforms within the Union Station train shed where steps overhang into the yellow safety strip area to eliminate potential tripping hazards for individuals who are not obeying the no standing or walking rules for those areas.

Complete

Since platforms 24-27 have an embedded ice melting system, trimming work on those platforms was delayed until summer 2017.

All yellow safety strips continue to be refreshed throughout construction.

Enhance safety messaging by:

  • increasing platform safety messaging;
  • targeting messaging to specific platform safety concerns; and
  • .
  • using a wider variety of communications channels to distribute the messaging to customers.

Messaging should:

  • educate people about no standing or walking zones, including the yellow platform edge;
  • encourage people to be aware of their surroundings, their movements, and any personal belongings they have in tow, such as backpacks, strollers, suitcases, etc.;
  • encourage people to “share the platform” and promote proper platform etiquette; and
  • highlight the risks of distracted walking, running on platforms, and forcing doors.

Ongoing

An annual safety campaign and support messaging for frontline staff have been developed and deployed. The campaign supports various safety messages throughout the year using all available channels for customer communication.

The campaigns will run throughout the year.

Increase safety enforcement through increased staff presence on platforms to monitor crowd behaviour and enforce safety.

This includes educating people about which areas they cannot stand or walk on, encouraging passengers to be aware of their personal belongings and surroundings, limiting access to platforms depending on passenger volumes, and auditing/reporting any observed issues.

Ongoing

Transit Safety Officers are on the platforms during all peak period operating hours to provide increased enforcement and monitor customer flow.

Increased staff presence will also be factored into safety campaigns outlined in the previous item.

Safety blitzes will be scheduled on an as-needed basis depending on emergent issues.

Medium-term enhancements

Action Status Next Steps

Adjust the location of mini platform ramps wherever possible to ensure doors do not open into no standing zones.

Because each mini platform ramp needs to align with a set of doors, their location affects overall door alignment.

In progress

A review of the location of mini platform ramps has been initiated. Alternative locations are being reviewed - design options will be included in the Union Station Enhancement Project.

Upgrade the interior doors on older train cars to make them easier for passengers to open, enabling easier movement between cars and a more even distribution of passengers throughout the train and on platforms.

In progress

A series of recommended modifications to rail cars is being implemented as fleet equipment is scheduled for refurbishment.

Upgrade and improve CCTV and public announcement technology within the Union Station train shed to enable staff to better identify and respond to safety issues as they occur.

In progress

Enhancements to the public announcement amplifiers were completed in spring 2016.

The CCTV technology will be upgraded as part of the each major phases of construction within the Union Station train shed, which continue.

Areas for further study

Action Status Next Steps

Further review the effect of train delays, cancellations and unscheduled platform changes to better understand how they impact passenger volumes and to determine the most effective responses to these situations.

Consider additional crowd control strategies in holding areas and on platforms.

Complete

Rail Operations and the Safety Management System Committee have adjusted existing practise and deployed best practices.

More in-depth studies will be conducted through the development of the GO Regional Express Rail program.

Explore the need for additional platform modifications and possible fleet design changes to address other equipment that overhangs into the yellow safety strip area, such as handrails.

Complete

A series of recommended modifications to rail cars has been pursued.

An assessment was undertaken to determine whether any additional platform trimming was required. Recommendations from the assessment have been implemented. Wider platforms will be created as part of the Union Station Enhancement Project (USEP).

Study the feasibility of installing platform edge barriers in areas where there is less than 50 inches of space between the platform edge and nearby structures.

Complete

An internal review of the feasibility of installing platform edge barriers was undertaken. All reasonable recommendations will be included in the USEP.

Study the feasibility of creating marked loading zones where customers can line up.

Complete

Consultants have completed a risk assessment and determined fixed loading zones will restrict overall circulation. It is assumed that new train technology (e.g., enhanced train control) would be needed in order to implement this action. This will be further considered in the longer term as signal systems are upgraded.

Work with Parks Canada to explore changes that can be made to the Union Station train shed in light of its designation as a National Historic Site. This would in turn allow improvements that address current and future safety issues resulting from increasing passenger volumes.

In progress

Discussions are ongoing as new designs are introduced. Modifications will be designed and reviewed as restrictions are eased.

Review different platform edge designs and best practices that could:

  • provide additional psychological triggers to keep customers from standing too close to platform edges; and
  • increase awareness of platform edges through enhanced warnings when trains are entering or exiting the station.

In progress

Research on alternative platform design was completed.

Alternative options being examined include the use of texture, colour, sound, or light, such as flashing lights along platform edges that are activated when trains enter or exit the station. The preferred design will inform platform enhancements implemented as part of the ongoing Union Station upgrades.