Blind man from Glasgow welcomes safety paving to the platforms of his local station
Last April, Michael Tornow (41) accidently fell from the platform edge at Bellgrove station in Glasgow and was rescued by fellow passengers just minutes before a train arrived.
Now, following a campaign by national sight loss charity RNIB, Network Rail has fitted tactile paving, concrete strips indented with furrows or small bumps that are felt when someone stands on them.
RNIB is pressing for tactile paving to be fitted on all railway station platform edges in the UK. In February 2020, a blind man, Cleveland Gervais, fell to his death from a platform in Beckenham station, south London, that also was unmarked.
“Since falling at Bellgrove I felt anxious every time I travelled because, without the tactile paving, I was worried I would not know I was nearing the edge and that I would fall again," said
"Thanks to RNIB working with Network Rail to install the tactile paving at Bellgrove, I can now travel confidently, just like anybody else. That’s why it’s essential Glasgow Central Low Level and all other stations that have no tactile paving on the platform have it installed as a priority.”
Recalling the incident in April, Mr Tornow said, "I had made my way towards the stairs to exit the station. On my way I must have been walking slightly too close to the platform edge on my right-hand side and I fell off the platform. Fortunately, my guide-dog remained on the platform.
"I landed on my backside and knees and, following the fall, my tailbone and knees were sore and badly bruised and I was in pain for a few weeks following the incident.
"I stood up and attempted to climb back up to the platform but couldn’t because the platform height was about two metres, and the wall I was trying to climb up was smooth concrete, so there were no hand-holds to assist me.
"I was so lucky in that the station was busy and other passengers risked their own safety to help me back up on to the platform. A train was due in about five minutes after me falling, and I would probably not be alive now if it weren’t for the help other people gave me.
"Had the tactile paving been there at the platform edge I would have avoided falling."
James Adams, director of RNIB Scotland, commended the rapidity of which the paving was fitted. But he underlined concerns that less than many stations in Scotland still don't have this, and passengers with sight loss are still experiencing similar accidents.
"People with sight loss are more reliant on public transport than almost any other group," he said, "so it's vital that they can feel confident getting around these spaces. We have, tragically, had one fatality already, and Michael's incident might have been another.
"So RNIB will continue to press for all stations to be safe and equally accessible to everyone."