RESTRAIL is a research project co-funded under the European Commission’s 7th Framework Programme for Research and Technological Development. RESTRAIL started on 1 October 2011 for a duration of three years and is coordinated by UIC. RESTRAIL aims to reduce the occurrence of suicides and trespass on railway property and the costly service disruption these events cause, by providing the rail industry with an analysis and identification of cost-effective prevention and mitigation measures
On 19 December 2013, INFRABEL (Belgium’s infrastructure manager, member of the RESTRAIL consortium) organised a seminar on rail suicide prevention. This event is a very good example of best practice to better manage the prevention of railway suicide. 64 participants from different companies attended this seminar. These included representatives of rail operators, infrastructure managers, rail police and health associations. Marie-Hélène Bonneau, Virginie Papillault and Grigore Havarneanu from the UIC security division attended the event.
According to the European Railway Agency (ERA), suicides represent 66% of the fatalities occurring within the rail system. These phenomena are becoming an increasing source of concern for railways in many countries, especially in Europe since it affects the punctuality, reliability of services, safety, railway staff, etc.
The seminar was opened by the organiser of the day, Sandra Devos, from INFRABEL Safety Management Department and started with the first session dedicated to various international experiences:
- The first presentation was given by Angela Van der Veer from PRORAIL (the Dutch infrastructure manager which is also member of the RESTRAIL consortium). She talked about the suicide prevention programme implemented in the Netherlands which includes railway staff training (gatekeeper programme).
- Tawfik Kamil from another Dutch rail operator (NS) presented the measures implemented to better manage the accident and minimise the shutdown time.
- Then Marie-Hélène Bonneau from UIC gave an overview of RESTRAIL and revealed the main deliverable of the project: a toolbox of guidelines and best practice for suicide prevention.
She underlined the need for coordinated actions for effective prevention. This collaboration involves effective measures introduced by several organisations, such as the government, railway undertakings, communities and regional authorities (e.g. public health, education, enforcement, urban planning).
- Finally, Emylie Charon (Corporate Prevention Services, Belgium) explained how railway staff members are helped when an accident occurs. She underlined the organisation of the psychological and administrative assistance to avoid post traumatic stress.
The second session included three parallel workshops with case studies. The first workshop focused on how to select preventative measures and how to combine them in order to improve the situation in specific hotspots. The second workshop concerned the management of post traumatic stress among train drivers and the third one addressed communication with the media and ways of managing new social networks (Twitter, Facebook, etc.).
Towards the end of the seminar a round table was organised to discuss the conclusions of the workshops. The Belgium suicide prevention plan was then presented. INFRABEL has identified 24 hotspots based on a pre-defined methodology. Referring to the allocated budget, soft and technical measures will be gradually implemented taking into account the specificities of each hotspot. The efficiency of the measures will be monitored and evaluated as well as the evolution of the problem in the long-term.
This seminar on rail suicide prevention provided a good opportunity to disseminate the RESTRAIL project among international experts, and to discuss the best way to exploit its results even after the end of the project. The RESTRAIL toolbox, which was very well received by the participants, provides decision makers in the railways with new ideas, new measures as well as a network of experts for suicide and trespass.
Thanks to INFRABEL for inviting UIC as RESTRAIL coordinator to this event which encourages and helps to learn from international best practice.
Further details on RESTRAIL project are available at www.restrail.eu