13.1 Increased visibility by lighting at specific identified hotspots

Lighting at railway hotspots is a measure that gives more visibility of what is going on close to the railway in specifically identified areas (e.g., crossings, tunnels, bridges). This gives information to the train driver, signaller or person monitoring the area about the circumstances at the spot (e.g. problems at the spot / people at the spot, etc). It can also be a signal to the society and people that cross the railway that the railway is monitoring what is happening in the area.
  • The effect is expected to be very high when the light is placed in selected hotspots, whereas it could have no effect in low risks areas. Therefore, decide which hotspot represents a priority for your problem.
  • If lighting is installed at hotspots, it has to be evaluated on a regular basis to make sure that the problem has not just moved to other places.
  • Lights should not be too intense in order to avoid blinding train drivers and interfering with railway signals installed on the tracks.
  • When the hotspot is a bridge, the problem can be that the bridge is not railway property.
  • Lighting reduces the amount of loitering in the railway area. However, there might be a difference between suicide and trespass. Increased lighting might at some places encourage trespass (because it appears safer to cross the tracks with the light).
  • It might be a problem for the driver if he enters a well-lit section of the railway and goes back into darkness, since it might take a while to get back vision in the dark. Also, make sure the light is not blinding train drivers or has a confusing or obscuring effect on signalling.
  • Be aware of light pollution which may cause acceptance problems with neighbours and nature conservation organisations. Communicate before installing.
  • Lighting integrates well with other measures. This action should always be combined with multiple measures such as removing bushes, fencing tracks, introducing signs at locations and other items of equipment.
  • Lighting can also be useful / necessary when CCTV   equipment is used and it can also support a loudspeaker that is triggered when a person is in the wrong place. The installation of lighting may be part of societal planning and, if the light is triggered by people and can switch on at any time in the night, discussion and hopefully consent from people living close to this area are needed. It should not be a big problem, as long as it does not cause problems of light intrusion in neighbouring properties. This can be mitigated with movement sensitive operation of lighting.
  • Two studies confirm that the suicide victim seeks seclusion and that lighting makes a person more visible, therefore light might reduce the determination to self-harm (Rådbo, Renck, & Andersson, 2012; Rådbo, Svedung, & Andersson, 2012)
  • In The Netherlands, it has been shown that the effect can be very high when placed in highly selected hotspots (up to 60% reduction) whereas it could have no effect in low risks areas.

last update: 2022-02-01 Print