Changes to station layout to prevent suicides

Train death: Scene from Portchester railway station in May this year. Picture by: Malcolm Wells
Train death: Scene from Portchester railway station in May this year. Picture by: Malcolm Wells
Victoria Park, Portsmouth. Credit: Google Street View

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TRAIN stations in the county are set to be redesigned as part of plans to cut railway suicides.

According to Network Rail, 17 people were killed on train tracks in Hampshire, with the national figure standing at 238.

Extra fencing, taking away seats from platform ends, more no-go areas painted with yellow cross-hatching, and ‘trespass bollards’ where the interruption of infrared beams sets off alarms will be among the most visible alterations to passengers.

Network Rail said that a partnership involving British Transport Police, train operating companies, and rail safety advisers has helped keep annual suicide numbers static at 238 in each of the past two years.

Disruption to train services, which costs about £33m a year, have fallen by nearly a quarter in 12 months, and total delays due to suicide attempts have fallen from more than 6,500 hours to under 5,000.

Neil Henry, Network Rail’s head of performance and operations, said: ‘From a purely economic point of view, there is a very strong business case which we don’t deny.

‘But there is certainly, too, a moral obligation, we feel, to do everything we can.’

Network Rail is also working with the Samaritans to provide training for staff to identify potentially vulnerable people.

Rachel Kirby-Rider, of the Samaritans, said: ‘This is something we are aware of, which is why we have been working in partnership with Network Rail for five years.

‘This is something we can prevent, if we all work together.

‘We have been running training courses to give frontline rail staff on the stations, who go up and down the rail line, to have the confidence to speak to someone in an element of distress.

‘That is essential in what we are trying to do.’