The last two days have seen another important step forward in the new Ox-Rails system at the Kassam Stadium.
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 two weeks ago and the ‘Clearway Distance’ (the gap between the rail and a folded seat) was checked to make sure that it exceeded the minimum requirement of the ‘Green Guide’.
Yesterday an Ox-Rail was rigorously tested to make sure it can bear the load, and a rail was fully installed in one of the back rows of the East Stand. If all goes to plan the rail will be in place for the first home league game of the season against Fleetwood Town, allowing fans in that row who choose to persistently stand to do so without the risk of falling forwards.
Ian Mixter, United’s Head of Crowd Safety, told us
“The original rail worked well but we went away and refined it still further to ensure there was no trip hazard and that it was both solid and unobtrusive at the same time. After extensive testing I am glad to confirm that the Ox-Rail passed all required safety tests. I have written to the Sports Ground Safety Authority to inform them and now require a ‘rubber stamp’ in order to permit the use of an Ox-Rail for the first home fixture of the season. I must stress that the rail covers 25 seats; I have worked hard to ensure that the regulatory authorities have not reduced the capacity in the row plus neither has it been increased.
"The 11th August will see the first use of an independent safety rail in an all-seater stadium in the UK and there will be a lot of media interest. It is vital that the club and supporters work together as the results will influence not only local matters but also help shape the national debate on safe standing.
"Following the completion of this current phase, which has ensured that the concept can be safely installed into the Kassam Stadium, further discussions will see the formation of a roll-out plan for Ox-Rails to be positioned in more rows in the East Stand and added to the rear of the North Stand away section.
"I proud that the club are at the forefront of spectator safety and this will bring further interest to Oxford United.”