Life-saving rail interventions up 49% in one year on the North West and West Midlands railway: Andrew Wellbeloved, Network Rail local operations manager, featured in Samaritans film 5

Friday 30 Jun 2017

Life-saving rail interventions up 49% in one year on the North West and West Midlands railway

Region & Route:
London North Western
North West Central

Suicide prevention measures put in place as part of the partnership between Samaritans, Network Rail, British Transport Police (BTP) and the wider rail industry are continuing to reduce deaths on the railway on the London North Western route.

Since April last year, 335* potentially life-saving interventions have been carried out across the London North Western rail network** by rail staff, British Transport Police, local police and members of the public – an increase of 49 per cent on the previous year. (See notes for local figures on interventions***).

Rail companies, BTP and Samaritans are continuing to work in partnership to encourage more people to open up and talk about mental health issues and suicidal feelings.

Samaritans deliver two training courses as part of the partnership – a course for railway staff and BTP officers teaching them how to identify and approach potentially suicidal people, and trauma support training aimed at those who may be affected by suicide on the railway.

As the new figures are released, the partnership is marking the 15,000th member of rail staff trained in suicide prevention.

Ian Stevens, who manages the suicide prevention programme on behalf of the rail industry, said: 

“It’s encouraging to see the number of suicides on the railway fall for the second year in a row, and hopefully this trend continues in line with our ongoing suicide prevention work. It’s great to be able to say that around one in six rail staff are now trained in suicide prevention, and that their commitment to preventing suicides on the railway is translating into actual lives saved on the ground. Put simply, we are now more likely to intervene and prevent people being injured or killed through suicide attempts on the railway.

“As the operators of the rail network in Britain, we have a responsibility to keep passengers, staff and members of the public safe. Alongside physical measures such as new barriers, fencing and lighting at stations, we will continue our work with Samaritans to prevent suicides and break down the stigma associated with mental health issues.”

Mark Smith, National Suicide Prevention and Mental Health lead for British Transport Police added:

“As the national police service for the railways, we are committed to reducing suicide and to our partnership with the rail industry and Samaritans. We are very pleased to see the reduction in suicides and suspected suicides and the increase in life saving interventions for the second year in succession.

“One of our contributions is through the work of our suicide prevention and mental health teams, which have NHS Psychiatric nurses working alongside police officers and staff. These teams work with statutory and third sector partners to help those people that come to the railway in mental health crisis or suicidal circumstances, access effective care pathways and get on the road to recovery. In the last year, these joint health and policing teams and our Community Safety Unit in Scotland, dealt with nearly 2,000 cases which includes 86 people who survived a suicide attempt on the railway with serious injuries.”

Samaritans CEO Ruth Sutherland said:

“The reduction in suicides on the railway shows that the partnership between Samaritans, Network Rail, BTP and the wider rail industry is making a real difference. But suicide is everybody’s business and we want to see the same dramatic reduction in suicide figures in general.  We look forward to taking this learning to a wider audience and having an even greater impact on suicide numbers in the coming years.”

Additional ways that the rail industry is preventing rail suicides include:

  • Fencing has been installed across the network at locations where the risk of suicide is known to be high
  • Improved platform markings, which exist for passenger safety, but for some at risk of suicide they also act as a psychological barrier
  • Engaging and working with local authorities to help prevent rail suicides

Suicide is the biggest killer of men under 50 and those from deprived communities are particularly vulnerable.

Notes to Editors

*Interventions from between 1 April 2016 and 31 March 2017 (source: British Transport Police) on the London North Western rail network.
The London North Western (LNW) route runs from London Euston in the South, through the West Midlands, the North West of England and Cumbria before joining with Scotland at Gretna. It is home to the West Coast Mainline – the busiest mixed use railway in Europe – and supports the major British cities outside of London.

  • Interventions in 2015/16: 225
  • Interventions in 2016/17: 335
  • Percentage increase in interventions: 49%
  • Railway suicides continue to account for approximately four percent of all suicides.

*** Regional intervention figures


Number of interventions



West Midlands




Greater Manchester




For further information, please contact:

Network Rail: Please contact Rachel Groves on 0330 854 0100 or

Samaritans: Please contact the press office on 020 8394 8300 or

British Transport Police: Please contact Lucy Jones on 0207 027 6415 or


  • You don’t have to be suicidal to call us. Whatever you’re going through, call us free any time from any phone on 116 123 (this number is FREE to call and will not appear on your phone bill), email, or visit orgto find details of your nearest branch.
  • It’s the public’s kind donations and 20,000 trained volunteers that mean Samaritans is always there for anyone struggling to cope. Find out how you can support us:

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