1.1.Identification of hotspots


What does this measure refer to and what is its objective?

Hotspots or black-spots are sites identified as having a high level of incidents, or where people’s behaviour is likely to be particularly disruptive. This measure includes station audits or multi-agency risk assessment to identify and analyse these high risk locations or priority locations.


Best practice and lessons learned

  • 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.
  • If possible, perform GIS mapping of hotspots.

Warning points

Expected difficulties and issues you should pay attention to

  • 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 the 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).


Other points that you should not forget

  • Once the hot spot recognition has been completed, the actual effectiveness of this measure relies on additional interventions to control the risk (e.g. fencing).
  • Inter-agency work may be needed, with support from senior staff in different organisations.

Study results

Data or other evidence supporting the measure's effectiveness

  • Identify priority locations and conduct station audits (multi-agency risk assessments of priority locations and action-planning such as deciding where to put posters and metal signs) (RSSB, 2013).
  • The procedure to identify railway suicide hotspots included (a) identification of all railway suicide cases (fatal suicidal behaviour only) from 2003 to 2009, (b) classification of cases by municipality, (c) identification of municipalities in which at least five suicide deaths occurred over the study period, and in which, independent from the size of the municipality, in total occurred at least one-third of all railway suicide cases over the specified 5-year period (Debbaut et al., 2013).
  • Increased awareness for regional and local suicide clusters (Andriessen & Krysinska, 2011; Erazo et al., 2004a).
  • Spatial analysis can be successfully applied to map rail trespassing risks, provided that geo-coded rail-trespassing data is available. Using Geographically Weighted Logistic Regression (GWLR), local models provide maps of coefficients, which show where certain pre-crash actions are associated with higher probability of trespassing crash injury (Wang et al., 2016).

last update: 2019-07-18