About us

In 2010 against an increasing number of suicides on the rail network the industry came together in an attempt to address the issue. Train operators and Network Rail committed resources to the programme and a dedicated team was created to provide specialist advice and expertise to the industry in its effort to reduce the:

  • number of actual and attempted suicides on the network
  • trauma caused by suicide incidents to the industry’s people and passengers
  • delay caused by suicide

Since the programme launched the rail industry has increasingly shared its learning about suicide prevention with other railway administrators and operators around the world as well as government departments and public, private and third sector organisations at home.

Suicides on the railway – facts and figures

Every 31 hours, a suicide occurs on the railway. Although railway suicides only account for around 4 – 5% of all suicides in Great Britain, the emotional, human and financial costs are disproportionately high. Whilst the total number may appear small, they have a massive impact on our industry.

The rail industry has a part to play in preventing suicides on the network and in the wider community. The most effective ways are through the promotion of help seeking behaviour amongst the vulnerable and intervening in suicide attempts.

In 2019/20 there were 283 suspected suicides. The average whole industry cost of one suicide is in the region of approximately £275,000 and in 2019/20, 777,020 delay minutes were attributed to suicide events on the network which equates to £67m in costs to the rail industry which will not be reinvested into the railway.

In the nine years since the partnership between Network Rail and Samaritans was established, 20,000 rail industry staff have received suicide prevention training and since the BTP began keeping records (April 2013) 10,059 life-saving interventions have been carried out across the network by rail staff, BTP, local police and members of the public. This equates to six lives being saved for every one that is lost.

This programme has a significant reputational benefit for the rail industry and its standing in the wider community.

Central to our programme is the belief that suicide is not inevitable and we can work collectively to reduce the traumatic loss of life and devastation that suicide causes.

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) will commence an investigation into all deaths and incidents involving serious injury on the rail network to ascertain the circumstances and conduct initial enquiries on behalf of the Coroner
  • 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

Supporting you

Whatever you’re facing, Samaritans are there to listen – day or night. Call them free on 116 123, or visit
(*this number is FREE to call) samaritans