The new ‘Ox-Rails’ system at Oxford United continues to make good progress with extensive testing carried out late last week on the rails themselves, which will allow fans who persist in standing at games to do so safely and without the risk of a crowd collapse.
Engineers were on site for over three hours of testing to ensure that the theory and plans which have been taking shape over the last nine months could be supported practically.
Ox-Rails would see a rail, 90cm tall, placed along the back of the existing seating at the Kassam Stadium which would allow plenty of room for fans to move along the rows of seats with the bar in position. The idea is to stop people falling forward as the result of crowd surges.
Sight lines were tested with height of individuals ranging from 5’7’ to 6’3’, checking to see that nobody’s view was impeded by the rail itself, and measurements were taken that show that the ‘Clearway Distance’ (the gap between the rail and a folded seat) - exceeded the minimum requirement of the ‘Green Guide’
The position of a baseplate, the number of anchor points and the position of the uprights were all adjusted to ensure safety and improve spectator experience. The picture shows a prototype ‘Ox-Rail’ in position - but please note that it is not the finished article, which will have additional control measures and protection from the elements.
Oxford United’s Head of Crowd Safety Ian Mixter told us
“It was good to start the testing and fantastic to see that things work so well. A lot of hard work and planning has already gone in to getting it to this stage and what we did was build the very first Ox-Rail, temporarily, in the back row of Block 19. There is an adjustment or two to be made, particularly in how it is to be anchored to the existing concrete base so the rail was removed, as planned, because it was always planned as a temporary build at this stage.
“We will look at what needs to be done, talk to the relevant people and hopefully keep refining and adjusting until we have a system that everyone is happy with and which we believe will make Oxford United one of the leaders in allowing supporters to enjoy a safer match day experience at the Kassam Stadium.”