Wednesday 08 February 2023

Mind the gap! €100 million train shelter benches scrapped as kids get fingers stuck

Pensioners on a bench

A safer sort of bench Photo: Depositphotos.com

More than a thousand expensive seats in bus and tram shelters in The Hague and Delft are to be replaced because children keep trapping their fingers in them, reports the Volkskrant.

The metal seats, which have only been in place for a year and cost €100 million, have small holes so that rainwater can drain away. Unfortunately, these 1.5cm holes are also an ideal size to trap a child’s finger.

This week the fire brigade in The Hague was dispatched to free a child with a stuck finger for the third time, and now the Hague and Rotterdam metropolitan area has announced it is replacing all 1,100 benches.

The designers of the benches told the Volkskrant he had tested for everything from resistance to sun fading to vandalism-proofing. ‘We even beat on them with hammers. But we did not check whether children could get themselves stuck in the holes.’

Last summer a boy who got stuck in a bench at the Madurodam stop had to be taken to Rotterdam by emergency helicopter, anaesthetised and only then could his relaxed finger be freed. A grandmother in Delft reported that her granddaughter had got stuck last October, and after firefighters hacked her mostly free, the rest of the metal had to be cut away in hospital.

A spokesman for the metropolitan area told the Volkskrant that the replacement wouldn’t cost the taxpayer more money as furniture for shelters is funded by advertisements. In the meantime, he added – with perhaps little sense of the tempting power of suggestion – ‘Children should simply avoid putting their fingers in the holes.’

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