SINGAPORE: Safety features at train platforms here are adequate and rank among the best in the world.
This is according to an expert witness who took the stand on the fourth day of the lawsuit by a Thai teenager against transport operator SMRT and the Land Transport Authority (LTA).
Ms Pen—Eakchanasak Nitcharee lost her legs in April last year, after she fell onto the train tracks at Ang Mo Kio station.
She is claiming that inadequate measures had been taken to prevent her from falling off the platform, and that SMRT and LTA had been negligent in failing to construct sufficient barriers between the platform and track.
Mr John O’Grady, Head of Safety and Environment (Department) at the Toronto Transit Commission said there were sufficient audio and visual warnings to ensure safety of commuters at the time of the incident.
Mr O’Grady is experienced in the area of safety management systems for public transportation, particularly in railway systems.
He said in addition to the yellow line, tactile warning studs, signs and announcements, two safety officials armed with whistles and lightsticks are usually deployed during peak periods to alert commuters if they were breaching the safety protocol.
Mr O’Grady told the court he had visited the Ang Mo Kio station a couple of days ago, and spoken to the station manager on the safety practices in place.
Having such safety officials exceeds what he has seen at train stations in Toronto, and even New York.
Mr O’Grady said based on what he saw in the video, Ms Nitcharee’s fall was very sudden.
"A confluence of factors led to the accident, I wouldn’t have expected the agencies to be able to foresee (Ms Nitcharee’s fall)," he said.
Lawyers for SMRT and LTA say they had provided a reasonably safe premise for Ms Nitcharee.
In fact, they provided figures of track intrusions between 1991 and 2004.
Over that period, there were 4.54 trillion trips made, but only 224 incidents of unauthorised track access.
Of these, there were 12 fatalities, most of which were pre—meditated.
They maintained it was her negligence that caused the fall, as video footage showed the platform was not crowded at that time.
Ms Nitcharee claimed that the crowd had surged as the train approached, and pushed her.
They said the absence of a platform barrier would not have been a danger, if commuters adhered to safety warnings — such as standing behind the yellow line.
The defence counsel for SMRT and LTA added that platform barriers such as half—height screen doors would have exceeded widely adopted international safety design standards in the transport industry.
At the time of the incident, the Ang Mo Kio station was slated to have these screen doors.
They were being implemented primarily to prevent track intrusions, and were being completed progressively.
As to the plaintiff’s expert witness Prof Natarajan Krishnamurthy’s suggestions that more staff patrols, as well as temporary barriers, should have been erected, defence counsel sought to prove that the cost of putting these in place would have far exceeded the cost of the half—height screen doors.
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