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Saturday, 29 June 2013

Will an underpass at Marion be safe?

I guess the answer to that question depends on who you are and what it is you may need to be protected from.  

At a recent open day held at Westminster School I listened as an engineer enthusiastically pointed to a neat looking picture and explained the benefits of his underpass design.

He talked at length about the need for 'grade separation' to ensure safety. Not being an engineer, I've since googled this term.  Apparently he meant  keeping people and trains moving on separate levels so that when they cross they can't physically collide.  That does sound very safe, if you consider that a train is the only threat we pedestrians face.

And there's the rub. It was hard to tell from the pictures, but an underpass is a tunnel. It is lengthy, angled and contains several blind corners for pedestrians. Forcing commuters in to and out of a tunnel offers them rail safety, but it also exposes them to all kinds of risks to their personal safety - particularly where an assailant can not be observed.

These personal risks are far more random and less able to be controlled by the individual. For example, I cross at the northern end of the platform using a maze crossing.  The design forces me to look up the track to avoid crossing in front of a train. I can control the risk to my safety simply by watching where I'm going. 

It's a different proposition underground though. I cannot see around corners. I may not be able to hear a potential assailant. I have very little control over these threats to my personal safety - particularly where they cannot also be seen by others. 

Unlike rail safety, personal safety risks are not equally shared. Assailants are overwhelmingly opportunistic. They are far more likely to target women, young girls and boys, the elderly, the disabled and people who are mobility impaired because they know we are more vulnerable. 

The current overpass may be old but it separates pedestrians from trains while maintaining their public visibility. The new tunnel may be' revitalised' but is it really safer?

The overpass may be old, but it works and it is visible

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  1. I am horrified that such an outmoded idea of an underpass has been put forward! As a woman I will not use a station with an underpass, I feel completely unsafe, even my husband said he would be unwilling due to the risk of muggings. We stopped using the train to the show grounds because of the rank and awful state of the wayville underpass, and now I read that Wayville is getting overpass. Is that because of the copmletely dirty and unsafe underpass? How many assults would need to happen before these planners who are completely unaffected by having to risk themselves in an underpass would be held to account.

  2. I fondly remember going over the Marion station "silly walk" with my Dad - I'm nearly 50 now. It was great. And as has been said you could see who was on it and it wasn't easy for folks to ride a bike on either. Loved it. Would be sad to see it go.