When there is a fatality on the railway there are inevitable delays; a lot of work is being done to reduce their occurrence and the subsequent disruption to services

Whenever there is a fatality on the railway, we follow a strict procedure:

  • If the person was struck by a train it is brought to an immediate stop, blocking the line and possibly delaying other trains in the area
  • The British Transport Police (BTP) must attend to take witness statements and determine if further investigation is required
  • A specialist funeral company will attend and remove the deceased
  • Our mobile operations team will then determine if the train is safe to proceed
  • The driver of the train is always replaced

Of the fatalities on the railway in 2016/17:

  • Six occurred on a level crossing
  • 28 involved people trespassing on the railway
  • 236 were suicide or suspected suicide

Around 4.5% of suicides in the UK take place on the railway, but the emotional, human and financial costs are disproportionately high as they can take place in view of passengers, station staff and drivers and result in considerable disruption to services.

What we’re doing to reduce fatalities

While our efforts in this area are clearly focussed on prevention, we have started working more closely with the BTP and have improved our procedures to reduce the time before rail services can resume.

Railway safety campaigns

We’re proud of our award-winning campaign work that has brought the rail industry together with key stakeholders and the general public to raise awareness of railway safety. As the operator of the railway, we have a responsibility to keep passengers and those who live or work near the railway safe. We regularly run railway safety campaigns across the press, social media, TV and radio.

Level crossing safety

There are around 6,000 level crossings in Britain. Every day they save thousands of lives by protecting us from one of the busiest rail networks in the world. We have dedicated campaigns and information for a variety of level crossing user groups including pedestrians, cyclists, drivers, and horse-riders.

Station safety

We manage Britain’s busiest and biggest stations. Every year there are more than a billion passenger journeys through the stations that we manage, and as the number of people travelling by train increases, they will only get busier. We're responsible for safely managing passenger flow, escalator use and passengers getting on and off trains.

Safety education

We've got great educational resources, developed with teachers and pupils. Education is key, especially for young people. We have a range of resources available about electrification on the railway, level crossings and railway safety. 

Suicide prevention

  • In 2010, we entered a partnership with Samaritans to tackle the complex issues around rail suicide.
  • The partnership has included the training of over 15,000 people who work for train companies, the British Transport Police and Network Rail with the skills, confidence and knowledge to identify and approach people exhibiting suicidal behaviour.
  • We worked with Samaritans and train operators to review the design of stations and other parts of our infrastructure to make locations less attractive for someone considering taking their own life. The changes include:
    • Removing benches from all fast line platforms
    • Installing fences to separate stopping and fast-line platforms
    • Installing fences at platform ends and anti-trespass guards to stop people using stations to access the railway
    • Installing lighting along dark sections of platforms and painting yellow hatching at the end of platforms
    • Smart cameras which alert us to unusual movements of people close to the tracks including at level crossings
    • Posters and signs raising awareness of Samaritans helpline in stations and at level crossings
  • We now hold regular awareness days with Samaritans at key stations.
  • We visit GPs and medical centres to understand what is going on in the community and any associated increase in risk.
  • Samaritans offer support in person to distressed individuals.
  • To get a better understanding of actions that could help prevent incidents, we carry out further investigations afterwards and have improved the sharing of information between us and the BTP.

For more information about Samaritans, visit samaritans.org