Are subway platforms SAFE?

I’ve asked this in a few places and been ignored so there may be a really obvious answer I’ve overlooked… but why on earth aren’t there fences on subway platforms? I mean, I don’t know about anywhere else but in Glasgow you often end up with a frighteningly crowded narrow platform, with electrified subway rails on both sides. I heard that on the Paris Metro the trains always slide to a halt at precisely the same point, so it wouldn’t have to hinder access.
… on the other hand I’ve never really heard of many accidents. Is there some reason why it’s safer than it looks?

The NYC subway used diffrent cars the doors will not allways match, also I dont know if they can pull the trains up to exactly the right point w/o making some expensive modification.

Also I would think it would be clostraphobic to be in a smelly, noisy hall crowded w/ people - and very lnely at night. At least with open plateforms you can see other people on the next platform

Your assumption is that a fence is safer. A fence that will prevent you from being pushed off the edge in a crowd. So that you will be pushed into the fence instead, crushing you to death.

That’s odd. I had this very thought yesterday. Here in San Francisco, the subway trains are computer controlled, and always stop with the doors in the same location (there’s even marks on the platform to show where the doors will be when the train arrives). ANYhow, my basic conclusion was that, if the platforms really were dangerous, they’d have put fences in long ago.

When you think about it, there’s no fences on the sides of most mountain roads either, and it’s a lot easier to control your feet than it is to control a car – provided you don’t get pushed, of course.

The problem in NYC, like k2dave said, is that there are as many as three different model cars operating on some lines. Also, at night, the trains on some lines stop at different points on the platform.

There are some NYC stations, like the Times Square side of the Shuttle, that do have fences, but even then the cars don’t always line up right.

Also, if a train were to malfunction halfway out of a station and stop, getting the passengers off with a fence in the way of all the doors would be a pain in the arse.

Additionally, the third rail on most electric trains is located on the far side from the platform, so if someone does fall, the chance that they would be electricuted (they’d have to touch the third rail and a ground, such as the regular rails) are slim.

In London, they just finished building the extension to the Jubilee Line on the Underground. The stations are amazing - almost worth visiting themselves believe it or not. There are glass barriers on the platform edges with sliding doors which open along with the tube-train doors. The trains are computer controlled so they always pull up to the same point of the platform - the drivers are there for safety only (a Homer Simpson job if ever I heard one). This was probably done because the year before the stations were designed two people had died after they fell onto the track through the gaps between the carriages of a train. The doors can be opened manually in case of an emergency, so they probably don’t stop nutters deliberately jumping onto the track, but they might put a few impulsive jumpers off.

North Grenwich station - one of the new stations - is so big that Canary Wharf, the tallest skyscraper in Europe, could fit inside the station concourse whilst on it’s side!

That’s the reason as far as I’m concerned. Whether it be someone getting ill, getting violent, or the train breaking down, I want to be able to get off that train as easily as possible. A NYC subway platform is inherently unsafe, but it’s also one of those social contract things. People typically don’t push each other in front of moving vehicles, out of open windows/off cliffs, or off of subway platforms.

Do you mean that episode of “Homicide” where Vincent D’Onofrio gets pushed in between the platform and the car is something that’s not likely to happen?

I don’t know about other cities, but people have occasionally fallen or been pushed off platforms in NYC. The biggest danger, I think, is not the 3rd rail, but being run over by a train.

There was a case a few years ago of a nutcase pushing a young women off in front of an arriving train. IIRC she lost an arm, but lived.

In Montreal, we don’t have the “narrow platform between two tracks” problem, as all but a few of our stations are rail-central, and those that aren’t have very wide central platforms.

When the metro was first installed just before Expo 67, they had automatic swinging gates that closed access to the platforms (not the tracks themselves) when the trains pulled into the station. However, they were forever breaking down and were eventually removed. Now, the fire codes prohibit such a blockage in passengers’ ways, so they will not be reinstalled.

Anyway, I’ve not heard of anyone falling into the rails, or getting pushed, for that matter (although people commit suicide regularly). At any rate, there’s a safety zone about half-a-metre wide at the edge of the platform that you are not supposed to stand in except when getting in and out of the trains.

In Paris, on the new computer-controlled and therefore driverless line 14 (Madeleine - Bibliothèque-François-Mitterand), they do have barriers between the platform and the rails, but this is largely to prevent suicides more than anything else.

The answer is probably a combination of A: fences aren’t neccessary because so few people fall onto rails accidentally and B: they’re expensive to upgrade to. I know in Singapore, with a relatively new underground system, there are fences everywhere whereas Hong Kong has none. Here in London, as has been pointed out, there are only fences in the few new stations.

From personal experience I’d say that the chances of falling accidentally are slim so putting in fences would be an unneccessary expense. However I have also been at the front of platforms during tube strikes when there is one train every 15 minutes and the volume of people coming onto the platform is anticipating one train every minute, and with the increasing pressure from behind it can get pretty scary.

In DC, the Metro doesn’t have fences. A few people have fallen onto the tracks, most notably sight-impared people. So now all the stations have about 1/2 meter of bumpy tile that is supposed to warn anyone walking on it that they are too close to the edge.

All I know is it hurts to walk on them with my thin-soled shoes.

Fortunately, people aren’t so impatient as to inadvertantly push anyone off the platform. People just kinda lay back as far from the rails and wait. Heck, they even let people get off the trains before getting on themselves. :D:D

Kudos on the Homer Simpson reference.

This is precisely like the metro system in Singapore, going by your description. Did this in any way serve as an example that you know of?

This is precisely like the metro system in Singapore, going by your description. Did this in any way serve as an example that you know of?

  • Fuck knows

Thanks for your valuable contribution, Ben Yacobi.
And mind your language in this forum from now on.

The metro system in Lille ,France ,also has driverless trains and glass barriers on all its platforms. This network is at least 12 years old and probably is the pioneer of this glass barrier/driverless arrangement.

Call me a naive young surfer; call me a fool for a pile of circuit boards; but that is the most comprehensive and helpful answer I’ve ever had to anything on the internet. Thank you one and all. Doesn’t make much difference, of course, but still, it’s good to know I’m not unique in my phobia of being electrocuted and then immediately run over by a train, and then electrocuted again. I must get down to London again - Glasgow’s very occasionally troublesome, but frankly the 19th century stations on the London Tube, with their four-hundred step staircases and their bizarre geography, are like something out of a Terry Gilliam movie. That is to say, they’d be pretty cool if they weren’t always so crowded. Glasgow would be similar but unfortunately our underground got its last makeover in the 1970s, so it’s brown and orange tiles and dayglo orange trains all the way.

Apparently that is an urban legend…

Seems to me that given the extremely narrow clearance between subway cars and the platform (in subways that I’ve been in) that it would be impossible to get stuck between the train and the platform.

Still, that episode of Homicide was unforgettable…as was the episode of HBO’s Taxicab Confessions where the Homicide writers got the idea from.

Actually, there’s often more than enough clearance if the station is curved, such as the Union Square or South Ferry stations in New York. Both have “gap-fillers,” large metal plates under the platforms that slide into place when a train is in the station. If one of the gap-fillers jammed…

Also, because the NYC subways were built as three separate systems, there are two different widths of cars. The track guage, however, is the same for all. Occasionally the narrower “IRT” trains run on the wider “IND/BMT” lines (often these are special cars modified for track repair or revenue work). Another golden screenwriting opportunity, hunh?

I think that ordinary train platforms can be more dangerous than their subway counterparts. On some railway stations on the British main-line system you can have through trains rushing past the platform at over a 100 m.p.h. Warnings are sometimes given and a line is painted a couple of feet from the edge but it is still a very scary feeling when these things go by.