A safety engineering expert at the Motor Industry Research Association has called for an investigation to be made into the possible use of seat belts on trains, following last week’s crash.
Engineers at Mira in Nuneaton, Warwickshire, were involved in crash test modelling of railway carriages following the Clapham rail disaster, and have been working on shock absorbent furnishings for passenger trains.
Mike Dickison, body engineering and safety group leader, said Mira has been testing table designs to spread impact loads more evenly across the torso during an impact, and seats that are built to collapse back under high loads.
These are likely to go into production in passenger train wagons soon.
‘But if passengers are not belted up it is hard to predict where people will go in an impact,’ he said. ‘There is usually a high degree of side load in rail accidents.’
Dickison said impact-absorbing furnishings would have little hope of preventing serious or fatal injuries at the front of a train in the immediate zone of impact, where the train structure collapses. But passengers further back in a train could benefit. ‘There should be an investigation to look at the benefits versus the costs and any practical problems that may arise,’ he said.