The mid-term conference was held on Wednesday 12 June at the headquarters of UIC, the project coordinator. Around 70 participants from 18 countries across Europe, Asia and North America were present on this day, organised with a plenary session in the morning and three parallel workshops in the afternoon followed by a concluding session.
In his introductory speech, UIC Director General Jean-Pierre Loubinoux stressed the human element of this project in view of the number of suicides recorded on railway tracks in Europe as the tragic result of track crossings for whatever reason. He then mentioned the impact this has on railway companies, infrastructure managers and operators – the project’s aim being to simultaneously act in advance to prevent suicides and trespassing and their consequences, as well as reducing the impact on operations by developing suitable organisations to manage these issues and effective information channels. Alongside UIC’s coordinating role, a wide range of partners were able to share their knowledge, analyses, viewpoints and proposals, namely railway companies, research institutes, universities and companies from various countries. He ended by pointing out the operational nature of the project, which should result in decision-makers providing an operational toolbox comprising the most suitable measures that have been analysed and tested in the field.
Chris Carr, Head of the European Railway Agency’s (ERA) Safety Unit, then stressed the importance of engaging the support of the rail sector towards this kind of accident which in 2011 represented 90% of railway-related deaths in Europe.
Lars Ekman, on behalf of Trafikverket, explained the “Toward Zero in Sweden” security strategy, which is applied at all levels in the country: political, industry and end users.
These keynote speeches were followed by the presentation of the first RESTRAIL results by the project’s work package leaders. The phase of analysing existing data and identifying prevention measures and mitigating consequences is completed and the field-scale pilot tests are being planned. The map above shows the tests scheduled over the coming year. They will help assess the effectiveness of measures selected and to specify their conditions of success.
The morning ended with a presentation on programmes and studies carried out on suicide prevention in the Netherlands, Switzerland and Canada. These programmes all showed the importance of analysing existing data to identify the most suitable strategies according to the context.
Three workshops were held in the afternoon: suicide prevention, trespass prevention and mitigation of consequences.
The aim was to work on concrete cases in small groups in order to assess the first version of the toolbox and to discuss possible improvements. Animators from each of the seven tables presented short accounts of the findings on (i) solutions for the problems or suicide or trespass and (ii) preliminary feedback on the strengths and weaknesses of the toolbox. In addition, the participants at the workshop completed feedback forms, including ratings in response to a series of statements and more descriptive responses to some additional questions. Detailed feedback has therefore been collected and this will need to be analysed in some depth.
There were a number of common messages from the animators of the different groups of participants. This is encouraging and gives some clear direction on work that is needed to make improvements to the toolbox. Feedback was obtained on the different elements of the toolbox, covering the six-step “process” for analysing problems of railway suicide and trespass, as well as the general content of the guidance materials in the toolbox.
These workshops enabled some valuable feedback to be collected and the RESTRAIL team knows more about what needs to be done to develop the toolbox. The workshop session was a great opportunity to consult with the participants at this important mid project phase.
In conclusion to the day’s meeting, a couple from the US whose daughter lost her life during a trespass incident attended the meeting to give a moving account of their commitment to take part in any action to prevent this tragedy happening again. They highlighted the importance of Restrail, expressed an interest in the planned field tests and stressed the need to also disseminate results outside Europe in future.
For further information on the RESTRAIL project, please consult the website: www.restrail.eu
All the presentations given are available in the RESTRAIL private workspace at