TSSA has participated in a Department for Transport (DfT) roundtable on suicide prevention on the railway.
The meeting took place on Tuesday 10 October and was hosted by Huw Merriman, Minister of State at the Department for Transport.
This meeting stemmed from the desire to see a reduction in the number of suicide and trespass incidents on the railways, which are of course individual tragedies, but affect staff significantly.
Attendees included representatives from DfT, Network Rail, the Rail Delivery Group, British Transport Police, BTP Fed, the Samaritans, and Railway Mission, Department of Health & Social Care the Home Office, TSSA and other rail unions.
TSSA was represented by Mary Sithole, our Treasurer. Following the meeting Mary has shared her next steps on what more can be done to prevent suicide on the railways, these have also been shared with the DfT.
Learning and sharing
There is a lot of good work being done by various industry partners including RSSB and organisations to provide information and data on suicide prevention within the railway. I think there is a benefit in taking time to review how we share this information with relevant TOCs, FOCs, Network Rail, BTP and other industry partners particularly information on the high frequency locations. This can help with preventative measures and well as prepare staff.
Making suicide prevention in the railway everyone's business is a good starting point and requires involving railway staff.
The presence of staff in stations is crucial in preventing potentially more instances of suicide as well as identifying risks. Staff help prevent easy access to the railway infrastructure by trespassers and vulnerable individuals. So, we need to keep stations staffed from the first to last service and in some instances 24 hours. There must be a commitment from the department of transport to keep stations manned and I hope the information from this roundtable discussion will be shared with the ticket closure consultation team.
Training and policies
Staff need to be supported with adequate and relevant training on managing suicide contacts and this training needs to be extended to agency staff. Trained staff will be able to deal with potential situations safely and confidently.
Policies such as management for attendance need to be reviewed and improved to support front line station staff including agency workers who are on zero-hour contracts. There must be a commitment from TOCs, FOCs, Network Rail, BTP and other industry partners to invest in staff welfare especially around trauma. Good support is available for the drivers, and this should be extended to station staff.
If you are affected by the issues raised in this article, then you can contact the Samaritans on 116 123 or call our members Helpdesk on 0800 328 2673.