Steps taken to reduce rail-related fatalities

Mental health charities and the rail industry are taking steps to tackle a worrying increase in the number of fatalities on train tracks.

Thursday, 3rd March 2016, 10:07 am
Updated Saturday, 5th March 2016, 9:18 am
Berwick-upon-Tweed train station.
Berwick-upon-Tweed train station.

The campaign has special significance in Berwick where there have been three rail-related fatalies in a matter of months. A tragic fourth such incident happened near Dunbar last Friday.

Around five per cent of suicides in the UK occur in the railway environment. There were 6,122 suicides in the UK in 2014.

The Samaritans, supported by Network Rail and the wider rail industry, has launched a We Listen campaign. Posters in railway stations are raising awareness of the issue.

Samaritans chief executive Ruth Sutherland said: “Life’s pressures can build, without you even realising. It’s all too easy to turn away, ignore how you’re feeling and put on a brave face. But you don’t have to do that with Samaritans. Samaritans volunteers make time for you and really listen to you, because simply being listened to can help you put into words what’s really going on in your life and help you find a way through.

“It might be the pressures of family, relationships, work, health, finances – or anything else. Life can be tough and it’s a strength not a weakness to reach out for support.”

Network Rail has been working with Samaritans to raise awareness of the charity’s emotional support services since 2010, along with Britain’s train operating companies and British Transport Police. The partnership has seen more than 11,500 rail staff trained in listening and confidence skills, enabling them to identify people at risk and help them.

In the past year, railway staff may have prevented more than 450 people from harming themselves on the rail network.

Ian Stevens, Network Rail programme manager, said: “We’re well placed and proud to support Samaritans’ We Listen campaign and help spread the message that you don’t have to go it alone with your troubles when life is tough.”

Inspector Pippa Smith from British Transport Police’s Suicide and Mental Health Team said: “Every suicide is an absolute tragedy and every attempt highlights someone desperately in need of help.

“Protecting life is BTP’s main priority. We work closely with Network Rail, the Rail Safety and Standards Board, the Samaritans and health and social care services, to tackle suicide prevention and suicides on the railway.

“We have suicide prevention and mental health teams based across the country which are staffed by both BTP and NHS mental health nurses who make sure vulnerable people on trains and at stations get the appropriate help from health experts.