Drinking alcohol may be banned on trains?

Rosie Vare
Man and woman sitting in train talking smiling commuters friends
Man and woman sitting in train talking smiling commuters friends

Drinking alcohol on trains in England could soon be banned, if health and safety experts get their way.

The Rail Safety and Standards Board (RSSB) has announced new proposals to prohibit alcohol consumption after a recent report revealed that more than half of all deaths on trains in the past year have been the result of drinking.

The Platform Train Interface Strategy report, released in January, found that as many as 21 of the 32 deaths during boarding and alighting trains were a result of passenger intoxication, the Mirror reports.

According to the report, "Intoxication is associated with the potential for passengers to fall from the platform, be struck by a train while on the platform, fall between the platform and the train or slip, trip, or fall across the platform train interface."

The RSSB report also found that men are involved more in alcohol-related deaths than women, and the accident rates are higher during off-peak periods.

However, rail passenger campaigners have protested that a law banning alcohol on trains would penalise those travelling responsibly, and opposition to the proposals is gathering pace.

Opponents include pop impresario and railway enthusiast Pete Waterman. Speaking in the Daily Mail, he said: "Most alcohol is not drunk on trains. It's people coming out of office parties and abusing staff. Ninety-nine per cent of passengers drink responsibly. It would be lunacy to ban alcohol on the entire network just because of a few problems on platforms. The answer is to stop drunks from entering the station in the first place."

In 2012, ScotRail took the decision to ban "visible alcohol" on trains between 9pm and 10am, with the support of the British Transport Police. It also ruled that if someone is seen to be "extremely drunk" they may not be allowed to even board the train.

It was the first train operator in the UK to enforce this regulation.

The report reveals that intoxication was recorded as the "fourth biggest incident factor by number of incidents". Passengers distracted by technology, such as mobile phone and tablets, was also cited as a cause of accidents, and 10 per cent of incidents were also said to involve people running or rushing onto the platform or train.

In order to implement the proposed changes, station staff will be provided with the training and support to help maintain safety at stations and on board trains. Technology, such as smart phones and tablets, will also be used to display staff announcements and log loyalty points for those waiting behind the yellow line on the platform.

Holograms may also be used to deliver safety instructions to those boarding and leaving trains and could even be targeted specifically in response to passenger behaviour.

Alcohol has already been banned on the capital's buses and the London underground. Boris Johnson implemented the ban in 2008 as one of his first acts as London Mayor in an attempt to curb anti-social behaviour.

Do you agree that alcohol should be banned on trains? Or is it just another example of health and safety going too far? Give your comments below.

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