The kick-off meeting of the UIC Trespass and Suicide Prevention Network (TreSP-Network) was held online on 28 June. Isabelle Fonverne, UIC Senior Safety Advisor, welcomed 35 participants from 16 countries (Europe, Russia, USA, Canada), who introduced themselves and shared their motivations for joining this new UIC Safety Platform working group. Many of the members said how excited they were to participate in the new group. Some had previously been involved in the highly successful RESTRAIL project; some had implemented action plans dedicated to trespassing and suicide prevention at their own companies and wished to share good practices with other members, while others were keen to learn from their counterparts in order to benefit from effective initiatives and implement action plans in the future in their respective countries.
Ms Fonverne explained that UIC had decided to create the group:
for statistical reasons:
More than half of the fatalities from railway accidents in the EU-27 involve unauthorised persons on the tracks or trespassers (61%) and almost one third occur at level crossings (33%). The figures may be even higher in other continents.
for strategic reasons:
Though there are existing national initiatives to tackle these issues, none are at global level, and there is clearly a high level of demand for such a group. The proposal to create the group had been approved unanimously by the UIC Safety Platform and by the members themselves.
The objectives of the group are:
- to create a permanent international platform to tackle railway trespassing and suicide prevention issues
- to update the RESTRAIL toolbox http://restrail.eu/ ; http://restrail.eu/toolbox/
- to exchange best practices and release UIC guidelines in the future
- to organise a future annual or bi-annual international awareness campaign or conference, similar to the International Level Crossing Awareness Day (ILCAD)
Many members of the TreSP-Network are also members of the UIC Global Level Crossing Network (GLCN, formerly ELCF) and were involved in RESTRAIL. Bart Hoogcarspel of ProRail reminded the group that some of the solutions from the RESTRAIL toolbox were being used in participating countries, including the Netherlands.
Alexander Ivanenko and Dr. Ann Mills were officially nominated as Chair and Vice Chair of the TreSP-Network for a first two-year-mandate as per the new UIC Safety Platform terms of reference. This mandate may be renewed once.
The newly appointed chair, Alexander Ivanenko, asked the speakers to introduce themselves.
Vasilij Semenovih, Deputy Head of the Department of Ecology, Labour Protection and Industrial Safety at RZD, provided an overview of the situation in relation to trespassing and suicide prevention in Russia.
Sarah Mayes, Operation Lifesaver Canada, shared information on her organisation’s railway suicide prevention public awareness campaign in Canada. She explained that OL Canada had just launched on a bilingual (French and English) public awareness campaign: #TodayIsBetter #CaVaMieux across the entire country.
Annelies de Keyser of Infrabel (Belgium) presented the Infrabel campaign on trespassing prevention. Infrabel has decided to use emotions to change people’s behaviour. 2 target groups have been identified on the basis of a scientific behavioural study conducted in 2019. Behind the figures lie stories of real people who are hit, die or are severely injured, as well as families in pain. Rather than merely publishing the figures, Infrabel has decided to tell the stories of four people. One of these is the unfinished story of 12-year-old Charlotte https://youtu.be/LfbFm7lvr5k (in French)
https://youtu.be/8aS5IfcRONQ (in Dutch, not available in English). The motto of the campaign is “Don’t leave a story unfinished. Watch out for the tracks!”.
Cornelis AJ van Houwelingen (Netherlands) gave a presentation entitled “Railway suicides in the Netherlands lower than expected. Are preventive measures effective?”. He presented the results of a study, providing some background and sharing details of preventive measures and the effectiveness of prevention programmes. More information is available at https://doi.org/10.1027/0227-5910/a000792.
Finally, Dr. Ann Mills presented the RSSB toolbox inspired by the RESTRAIL toolbox and developed at the request of the British rail industry to identify, understand, select and design measures to prevent railway trespassing. Dr. Mills also mentioned the RSSB suicide prevention podcasts, available on the organisation’s website: https://www.rssb.co.uk/what-we-do/insights-and-news/rssb-podcasts/rssb-podcast-library
The group’s future work programme was then discussed by the participants.
Closing the kick-off meeting, the chair wished all of the members a pleasant summer break. The group’s second meeting is due to take place in mid-October.