On 3 April 2014, the European Infrastructure Managers (EIM) organised a Workshop on Suicide Prevention in Brussels. The aim of the workshop was to gather different perspectives on the topic, taking into consideration European statistical data, scientific analysis, the perspective of authorities and the experiences of rail infrastructure managers. UIC attended the event as coordinator of the RESTRAIL project to present the cost effective measures to reduce railway suicides, and five participants attending the event were already members of the RESTRAIL consortium.
Jayne Yeo (ERA) outlined the strategy of the European Railway Agency (ERA) on the matter, pointing out the role of the Agency in the collection of statistics and harmonisation of data. She stressed the importance of investigating the psychological reasons why people would choose the railways as the way to commit suicide. She recognised that a solution to the effective prevention of suicides on railways has no magic bullet, but it would rather depend on a combination of measures. Using a systematic approach to behaviour change may increase the chances of finding promising interventions.
Maria Hedqvist (Trafikverket) presented the RESTRAIL project, coordinated by UIC and co-funded by European Commission under the FP7 Programme. She outlined the structure of RESTRAIL and notably the method used to evaluate measures to reduce railway suicides. She pointed out that 11 pilot trials are currently ongoing under RESTRAIL to test some of the promising measures, four of which target railway suicides. Grigore Havarneanu (UIC) explained further the main outcome of RESTRAIL which is a toolbox of best practice on suicide and trespass prevention, and described the content and organisation of the toolbox. The aim is to help the stakeholders to achieve a better decision-making process with regard to suicides on railways, providing them with examples of effective measures.
Mark Smith (BTP) presented the approach and tactics British Transport Police (BTP) uses in order to deal with the issue of suicides on railways. He highlighted the importance of coordination between BTP and Health and Mental Services, as well as station managers and local community. He added that BTP is also constantly working on structured suicide prevention plans with tactical options. Tom Naughton (BTP) gave a presentation on how BTP would efficiently manage fatalities, trying to minimise the impact of disruption due to a suicide. He introduced the various classifications used to assess the different types of incidents and mentioned that BTP managed to reduce the shut-down time through training and cooperation with the industry partners.
Vincent Godeau (Infrabel) gave an overview on the issue of railways suicides in Belgium and outlined the suicide action plan recently developed by Infrabel. The implementation of the plan involves the identification of critical hotspots, along with different technical and soft measures. The first include fences, anti-trespass panels, a detection system by thermal CCTV and lighting in railway stations. The latter focus on collaboration between experts, emergency information at the station or targeted campaigns. He pointed out Infrabel’s participation in the RESTRAIL project.
Angela Van der Veer (ProRail) introduced the suicide prevention programme started in the Netherlands. The programme aims at preventing suicides. Among the measures, either technical or soft, that have been deployed, fences or lighting, as well as communications and media awareness, were mentioned. She mentioned that ProRail is also part of the RESTRAIL Consortium and gave an overview of one of the RESTRAIL field tests: the Gatekeeper training course carried out by ProRail.
Ian Stevens (Network Rail) gave notice that Network Rail has been running a programme on railway suicide prevention since 2010, and presented the scale of the problem in the UK. He introduced the cooperation programme between Network Rail and the Samaritans, based on training sessions, material campaigns, and voluntary work by Samaritans on platforms. He also mentioned Networks Rail’s support in one of the RESTRAIL field tests (mid-platform fencing) which is being conducted in the UK.
The toolbox was well received by all participants. The EIM attendants recognised that it would be a “gold mine” for the infrastructure managers. Jayne Yeo (ERA) endorsed the continuity of the toolbox under the responsibility of UIC and appreciated its added value, while Network Rail and BTP representatives looked forward to the final version of the toolbox and expressed their intention to participate in the next RESTRAIL events.
The RESTRAIL toolbox will be presented during an Invited Session within TRA 2014 conference (17 April 2014). The final RESTRAIL event will be hosted by UIC on 18 September 2014.
For further information about the RESTRAIL toolbox, please contact Grigore Havarneanu: firstname.lastname@example.org
For further information about the RESTRAIL project please contact Marie-Hélène Bonneau: email@example.com or visit the project’s webpage www.restrail.eu