It's High Time Our Train Stations Get Safety Barriers

PH commuters deserve no less.

MRT reimagined safety barriers
PHOTO BY Christopher De La Cruz ILLUSTRATOR: Warren Espejo

Trigger warning: mentions of suicide, death

( A 73-year-old female passenger died after allegedly jumping onto the MRT-3 track on Wednesday, April 12, prompting social media users to call for the installation of safety barriers in train stations. Whether it was intentional or an accident, safety barrier can deter such incidents, they said. 

By installing barriers in the Philippines where practically all railways have no safety barriers—except at sections of the Philippine National Railway tracks where barriers are installed to stop cars from crossing the rails—such incidents can be avoided, commuter advocacy group The Passenger Forum said. It can reduce harm either by accident or intentional acts, which also result in stalled operations or even potential trauma to witnesses. 

"Long overdue na talaga na magkaroon ng safety barriers hindi lang dahil sa ganyang klaseng insidente pero para na rin sa general safety ng ating mga istasyon," said The Passenger Forum convenor Primo Morillo in an interview with


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How train safety barriers look like in other countries

Some countries have train safety barriers between the passengers and the rails that only opens where passengers can alight or board. Train barriers, or fences in some countries like Sweden, restrict passengers from the rails to deter rail-related deaths like suicide, according to this December 2022 safety research on high-speed trains. The study concluded that while adding fences reduced railway suicides, there was an increase in suicides at nearby stations without fences.

In Hong Kong, its underground trains—called Mass Transit Railway (MTR)—have floor-to-ceiling barriers. Above ground, it also uses chest-height barriers, like the ones installed at the Sunny Bay station going to Hong Kong Disneyland Resort.

Hong Kong train
Floor-to-ceiling barriers at Hong Kong MTR, taken in April 2023. 
PHOTO BY Pia Regalado
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Hong Kong MTR train
The MTR train going to Hong Kong Disneyland uses chest-level barriers, taken in April 2023.  
PHOTO BY Pia Regalado

In Singapore, stations also have floor-to-ceiling barriers while in Japan, some stations have chest-level barriers too.

Also read: The Guide to Exploring Singapore by Train

Singapore train with barrier
Taken in Singapore in November 2022.  
PHOTO BY Clara Rosales
Train in Japan with barrier
How it looks like at Aobadai Station in Yokohama, Japan, taken in April 2023.  
PHOTO BY Christopher De La Cruz
Japan train with barrier
How it looks like at Aobadai Station in Yokohama, Japan, taken in April 2023.  
PHOTO BY Christopher De La Cruz
West Japan train high-speed
A railing separates passengers and this high-speed train in Kansai. Taken in 2018. 
PHOTO BY Leana Vibal

In South Korea, underground and above-ground train stations also have barriers. It's the same in Bangkok, Thailand.

South Korea train station
South Korea's Hongik University Station (L) and Guro Station (R) taken in March 2023. 
PHOTO BY Clara Rosales
Bangkok Thailand train
Barriers installed at the Phaya Thai train station in Thailand. Taken in August 2017. 
PHOTO BY Bea Faicol

Why the Philippines needs safety barriers in train stations

The Department of Transportation has recommended the installation of barriers, the UNTV said in an April 13 report, a day after the alleged jumping incident happened. While it has yet to be installed, train personnel will be asked to closely monitor passengers to avoid similar incidents.


"Actually that is already one of our recommendations, I think in the previous administrations meron na ring proposals na ganun. Apparently, due to budget constraint, hindi siya nagpu-push through," MRT officer-in-charge Jorjette Aquino said in the report.

More than a tool for safety, barriers can also improve the efficiency of train operations, said Morillo. The latest MRT incident paralyzed half of its train operations for an hour, forcing passengers to wait or look for other transportation options to ferry them to their destination. And who can forget that time a diaper that landed on the MRT train line near Ayala station stalled operations for over an hour in 2017?

Morillo also pointed out that the infamous Kamuning footbridge (also dubbed Mount Kamuning) is accident-prone. Its "peak" is directly above the MRT tracks, without any barrier in between. There are also no barriers between other footbridges placed directly above train tracks.


"Kahit na magkaroon tayo ng barrier sa MRT stations basta accessible 'yung Mt. Kamuning sa mga tao, e double whammy 'yun kasi mataas pa 'yung tinalunan mo tapos papunta ka pa sa riles."

A properly-designed train barrier also can prevent trains from overshooting and missing the platform, he said.

"Ang mga LRT and MRT passengers, alam na alam natin na sanay sila nag-o-overshoot ang trains, lumalampas pintuan sa kung saan siya supposedly bubukas kaya ang nangyayari, ang mga pila, hindi talaga nasusunod."

"Madali sabihin disiplina-disiplina pero ang reality, 'yung disiplina susunod if you have the right design. Ang design is magkaroon ng precise na hinto at ang mag-e-enforce nun ay 'yung barriers."

MRT station in Araneta Cubao
Passengers waiting for the train to stop at the MRT Araneta-Cubao Station. 

Advertising is also a possible reason why barriers aren't a thing here in the Philippines. Some trains are dressed with stickers from front to end, like a moving promotional material, said Morillo.

So what do we need here in the Philippines? Ideally, full barriers to shelter trains completely, he said.

"Mas effective na barrier ang mas kumpletong barrier, 'yung talagang sarado, pero ang barrier na mas mababa nang konti, parang railings, better pa rin 'yun kaysa sa wala. Pero ang best na barrier ay 'yung talagang maba-bar ka talaga."

And while more train lines are in the works here in the Philippines, it's best to prioritize safety barriers there, too.

"Dapat 'yung mga bago (train lines and stations) meron na kasi kung ang panawagan natin itong mga luma magkaron, sama na nila sa plano nila 'yung mga bago."

The commuter advocacy group also urged other commuters to speak up regarding this issue.


"'Pagka may clamor, may demand, may snowballing ng support para sa isang bagay, that's the time na uy, dapat nating mag-respond at 'yun din ang panawagan natin sa commuters, kung gusto natin ng ganito, sabihin natin."

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