A number of local residents have been corresponding with Network Rail, First Capital Connect, the Office of Rail Regulation and David Burrowes regarding the gap that now exists between the platform at Winchmore Hill Station and the train doors. This is a result of Network Rail moving the rails, which is believed to have been done to enable wider freight trains to be run along the Hertford loop at higher speeds.
First Capital Connect is responsible for the station and thus passenger safety and have been communicating with Network Rail regarding the issue. They have acknowledged that the gap between the platform and train now exceeds safety standards. Contractors are due to make changes to the platform in July, although no details have been provided on what improvements will be made.
This is now the best part of a year since the changes were made and the problem was first reported and leaves a potentially dangerous situation in the intervening period, especially for the young and old.
Here is what some residents have written.
"I travelled to Whistable on Thursday 7th June leaving from Winchmore Hill. It had been raining all morning before I caught the 13.34. To board the train I had to step up and across the gap and in doing this my foot slipped on the wet floor and I fell. I was holding on to the handle but it was too low to be of use in keeping me upright. I was extremely lucky not to fall down the gap onto track level. Fortunately there were were two employees of FCC in my doorway and they, with difficulty, managed to help me back to my feet even though my feet were still sliding on the wet floor. I would welcome the opportunity to thank those two for their assistance. Without them I don't know what I would have done. Why is the floor at the entrance to the carriage not non-slip as on Kondon buses? Why is the handrail too small and too low to be of any effective use. I shall be communicating with First Capital Connect and Network Rail. I am copying this email to David Burrowes". Peter Johns
"I have taken this issue to the Office of Rail Regulation. They were very helpful and have pushed for action to be taken. Network Rail have admitted that the gap exceeds safety standards. They are (according to the Rail Regulator planning to do some work at Winchmore Hill in July. My concern is that they will probably do the very minimum, rather than making it the best it can be for passengers". Nina Anstee
"We have a friend, who cannot get on the train without asking help from another passenger, another now travels to Palmers Green. It is impossible to wheel on a buggie without help. Lifting luggage on is hopeless. It seemed to happen over night last summer. One day the gap was manageable the next day not. Extraordinary. The suggestion is that the rails have been moved to accommodate overnight freight trains. I distinctly remember at the Grange Park meeting last winter we were told there would not be more freight trains at night. Network Rail and First Capital Connect seem to be ignoring the situation but it really should be corrected as soon as possible before some child or elderly person falls between the train and the platform".