1.3Planning for special circumstances

This measure refers to risk assessment when planning for special circumstances (e.g. different access points to the railway during engineering work), or risk associated with particular groups, such as the collection and use of local intelligence (e.g. knowledge of high risk individuals in the locality).
  • Risk assessment is a tool which can help you develop a better understanding of specific risks in different locations, in temporary or atypical situations, or risks associated with specific groups of people. You should understand how the problem relates to the known or preventable issues of station, crossing or railway design that can be linked to suicide and trespass.
  • In assessing the level of risk at your location, try to identify the scenario(s) that best fit(s) your problem. For example, children and youths trespassing to play or vandalize, people using the platform end to change platform, people taking shortcuts over the track, people who are unfamiliar or confused, other major factors involved (e.g. alcoholism, fare dodgers, station design etc.).
  • Conduct post-incident reviews following each suicide or trespass accident to identify whether further mitigation measures are justified at all locations.
  • Suitably trained staff will be needed for assessments, plus coordination of a risk assessment program, perhaps at industry rather than organisational level.
  • Mostly with special circumstances there are other security forces in the lead (e.g. police), so cooperate with them.
  • There may be diminishing returns (increased effort for improvements in safety) from the risk assessment program, though this should not be a problem if the numbers of incidents are reducing or remain low.
  • Risk assessment activities for temporary work only need to be effective for the duration of the work, though lessons learned from one situation need to be transferable to other locations and situations.
  • Interventions aimed at specific groups or individuals will need to be maintained, for as long as members of the group or the individual are thought to be at risk. It will be necessary to adapt to changing tactics / behaviours of individuals / groups (e.g. trespassers, people at risk of suicide), so the risk assessment will need to be reviewed from time to time to ensure that it is still appropriate.
  • Risk assessment is generally accepted within the industry, but it may be necessary to consider different tolerance of risk or standards of protection with application across Europe. There may be some cultural issues, associated with different tolerances of risk or standards of protection (e.g. the degree of fencing that is usual in railway environments).
  • The effectiveness of this measure relies on additional interventions to control the risk (e.g. fencing).
  • Interagency work may be needed, with support from senior staff in different organisations.
  • Specific assessments of suicide risk, particularly if patients and services are located near railway hubs. Specific standards of risk and safety assessment in professional practice, and a clear clinical pathway to promote safety are needed, alongside clinical leadership to ensure preventive efforts are optimized (Bhui et al., 2013).
  • Suicides seem to vary most with train type used, whereas attempted subway suicide seem to be closely associated with stations’ crowdedness and the presence of drug users. Suicide preventive measures should, therefore, focus on the safety of train types and on crowded stations as well as on risk groups such as drug users in subway stations (Niederkrotenthaler et al., 2012).
  • The focus on stations would seem justified given that 46% of female suicides and 35% of male suicides occur in stations. Stations also form only a tiny percentage of the land covered by the rail network, meaning that suicides tend to be focused on these high risk ‘nodes’. More could be done especially in relation to situational measures associated with blocking off access to the line and blocking access to fast lines. There would also be benefit in examining more closely the small number of stations that have experienced multiple suicide events in recent years in order to identify the particular factors that put   these locations at risk and to ensure that preventative action has been taken at these locations (Brown et al., 2012).
  • Investigating the primary causes of accidents that happen to the public at stations and at the platform / train interface, and the extent to which they can be reduced in number and severity (RSSB  , 2011b).
  • Addressing the causes of suicide for 20-29 year olds males (Routley et al., 2004).
  • Patients with affective and psychotic disorders in particular should be targeted in order to prevent train suicide (van Houwelingen & Kerkhof, 2008).

last update: 2014-08-05 Print