21 December 2015: Lord Faulkner of Worcester asked Her Majesty’s Government how they plan to reduce the number of suicides on railways, and to reduce the disruption they cause.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Transport and Home Office (Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon) (Con): My Lords, the Government are fully supportive of initiatives which the rail industry is taking, led by Network Rail, in liaison with the Samaritans and other organisations, to reduce the number of suicides on the network. They are beginning to show results. The initiatives include measures to reduce the ease of access to platforms passed by fast trains and to train staff to intervene to help people near the railway who may be in a distressed state.
Lord Faulkner of Worcester: My Lords, I am sure the Minister will agree that it is impossible to exaggerate the distress and disruption caused by people taking their own lives on the railway to the bereaved families and friends, to station staff and passengers who may witness the event and to the train drivers affected, many of whom are so traumatised that they never drive again. British Transport Police tells me that fatality delays this year will amount to more than 455,000 minutes and that the number is rising. Does the Minister agree that the railway cannot tackle this problem on its own and that, while much is being done with bodies such as the Samaritans, which he mentioned, there needs to be a national campaign involving the Government, the civil police, mental health professionals, rail staff and the travelling public to identify people at risk and discourage them from harming themselves on our railways?