RESTRAIL – contributing to more efficient rail services

Posted: 2 April 2013 | | No comments yet

REduction of Suicides and Trespasses on RAILway property (RESTRAIL1) is a threeyear project that began on 1 October 2011 and is co-funded by the European Commission’s FP7 Programme. The aim of RESTRAIL is to reduce the occurrence of suicides and trespasses on railway property and to reduce the service disruption and other consequences these events cause by providing the railway industry with an analysis and identification of cost-effective prevention and mitigation measures.

REduction of Suicides and Trespasses on RAILway property (RESTRAIL1) is a threeyear project that began on 1 October 2011 and is co-funded by the European Commission’s FP7 Programme. The aim of RESTRAIL is to reduce the occurrence of suicides and trespasses on railway property and to reduce the service disruption and other consequences these events cause by providing the railway industry with an analysis and identification of cost-effective prevention and mitigation measures.

REduction of Suicides and Trespasses on RAILway property (RESTRAIL1) is a threeyear project that began on 1 October 2011 and is co-funded by the European Commission’s FP7 Programme. The aim of RESTRAIL is to reduce the occurrence of suicides and trespasses on railway property and to reduce the service disruption and other consequences these events cause by providing the railway industry with an analysis and identification of cost-effective prevention and mitigation measures.

The International Union of Railways (UIC) is in charge of coordinating RESTRAIL and its main objectives are: To analyse the causes of suicides and trespasses on railway property based on existing data, studies and research results; to identify the various available prevention and mitigation measures and analyse their con – ditions for success in the rail environment; to field-test selected measures and evaluate their effectiveness; and to propose a toolkit of the most relevant and cost-effective measures and recommendations at European level, both to reduce the occurrence of incidents as well as to manage incidents and reduce consequences.

Beyond the emotional, human and societal aspects of each act, the aim is to take collective action to reduce the occurrence of these disruptions to railway operations and their negative impact in terms of punctuality, reliability and image.

Therefore, the idea is to conduct an in-depth analysis, using a cross-disciplinary approach, of the causes and characteristics in order to reach a better understanding and assessment of the situation, before studying the remedial measures that have already been implemented by certain railway undertakings and infrastructure managers and examining potential new measures: ‘soft’ measures such as training, raising awareness, incentivising better behaviour, and ‘technical’ measures such as protection, alarm and monitoring systems.

The most interesting measures will be tested on the field and the outcome of the project will be a ‘toolbox’ to be used by decision-makers. This is a determinedly ‘utilitarian’ project, aimed at providing tools to assist decision-making as best suits the gravity or frequency of the phenomenon. Its human and cross-disciplinary dimensions make it particularly interesting.

Project structure

The RESTRAIL project is structured into the following seven work packages (WPs):

WP1: Qualitative analysis of suicide and trespasses on railway properties

Led by VTT, WP1 aims to collect and analyse data related to railway suicides and trespassing accidents and the main objectives are: To provide a systematic description of current knowledge concerning railway suicides and trespassing accidents; to collect statistical and behavioural data concerning railway suicides and trespassing accidents; to collect data concerning the consequences of suicides and trespassing accidents; and to analyse the collected data and draw the conclusions.

WP2: Assessment of measures targeted to reduce railway suicides

Led by Trafikverket, WP2 aims to identify and provide an assessment of the most efficient measures and analyse the conditions of success in terms of suicide prevention on both a European-wide and the worldwide rail network, taking into account regional/national differences, locations and hot-spots and level crossings, etc. After developing the method – ologies for assessing technical and soft measures, those methodologies will be applied to each type of measure with the aim of finding the best measures (in terms of costeffectiveness criteria) to be applied later in the pilot tests during WP5.

WP3: Assessment of prevention measures targeted to reduce railway trespasses

Led by IFSTTAR, WP3 is dedicated to analyse the best practices (technological and nontechnological) and to identify the cost-efficient measures to prevent railway trespassing accidents and incidents. The main tasks focus on the assessment of identified counter – measures (technical and soft measures) for preventing trespasses, taking into account the research findings and good practices by railway undertakings and infrastructure managers. Attention will be given to the development of new approach of soft measures to avoid trespassing accidents. The aim is to develop recommendations and guidelines for mitigation measures to reduce human fatalities and disruption of services resulting from trespasses on railways property.

WP4: Mitigation of consequences by improving procedures and decision-making

Led by MTRS3, the objective of WP4 is to develop methods and tools that can be integrated with existing procedures and technologies in order to achieve the most effective and cost-efficient means of mitigating the potential impact of suicides and trespasses on railway infra – structures. WP4 will address suicides and trespasses occurring on all railway infra – structures. This will cover the line of route, stabling and maintenance facilities and any other location where suicides and trespasses may disrupt train operation. The benchmarks for the soft measures to be developed within this work package will take into account the methods and procedures presently implemented by: infrastructure managers; railway undertakings; state, municipal and railway police; fire brigades; other first responders and other stakeholders in Europe – on which information will have been collected and analysed in WP1. The purpose of the research activity from this perspective is to identify, from acquired knowledge, proven effective and cost-efficient arrangements, and to compile these into a functional information reference source. This source will support the stakeholders as they assimilate the identified methods, tools, procedures and managerial models in order to reduce the consequences of suicides and trespasses. The benchmarks for the technologies and applications that may be used by the various stakeholders will be based on existing platforms and applications implemented in the industry, such as those utilised by the infrastructure managers and railway undertakings cooperating as partners in this work package.


WP5: Field pilot tests and evaluation

Within WP5 led by CIDAUT, a selection of the most promising mitigation measures and good practices will be selected for being imple – mented and assessed, in order to be proposed for wide implementation in railway environ – ments throughout Europe, taking into account the existing national/regional differences. These measures could had been previously and successfully tested in one country, or in other cases, they could have been founded quite promising by experts in WP2, WP3 and WP4. Therefore, the objectives of WP5 are: To make a final selection of the most promising measures, in terms of cost-effectiveness, to be imple – mented in the pilot tests; to implement several pilot tests (field pilot projects) in different locations in Europe; to evaluate and assess the results of these trials, trying to demonstrate that preventive measures identified are feasible and cost-effective; to make recommendations and provide guidelines about measures and their implementation by stakeholders in the future after the project. These measures and their implementation plans will be previously refined taking into account what has been found in the pilot tests.

WP6: Dissemination and exploitation of the results

Led by the UIC, the objectives of dissemination and exploitation activities, which shall contri – bute to the scientific and technical progress of the project as well as to a broad implementation of the project results, are: To inform the targeted public on the existence of the project and its objectives, in order to generate interest for the project results implementation; to distribute appropriate information to each type of identified target so that each group be able to easily use and apply the information it is concerned of; and to maintain the viability of the project results.

WP7: Administrative and financial management

Led by the UIC, the objectives of WP7 are: To ensure an efficient project management for the whole consortium and making sure that the project objectives will be met within the given budget frame and schedule; to set-up project specific management tools and procedures with the aim of ensuring a proper and accurate; and for reporting and accounting to the Commission.

Railways’ testimonies


In Sweden, the annual number of suicide cases amongst persons aged 15 years or older is approximately 1,450, if uncertain cases are also counted. This means that around 17 out of every 100,000 citizens in our country die as a result of suicide every year. That is more than five times as many as those who died in road accidents during the year 2010. The number of suicide cases has gradually declined over the last 30 years, with the exception of the youngest age group (15-24 years of age). Approximately 7% of suicide cases occur within the transportation system.

In the spring of 2008, the Swedish Government announced a ‘Vision Zero’ policy for suicide. The ‘Vision Zero’ initiative emphasises that suicide is everyone’s responsibility, and first-aid training to help suicidal persons should be provided for every citizen. This policy is vital in conveying a strong signal from the Swedish Government to the whole population that suicide is an extremely important issue and must be addressed accordingly. The policy is also intended to counteract the many stigmas and taboos surrounding suicide.

Trafikverket (the Swedish Transport Administration) works actively to prevent suicides and other trespassing fatalities in its railway system. To help, an analysis of the discrepancies between the safety goals and the current state, and a strategy for reducing these discrepancies during the current planning period (which ends 2020), have been developed. The RESTRAIL project helps Trafikverket further in their goal to reach zero fatalities.


Since 2008, Infrabel – the Belgian railway infrastructure manager – has developed a suicide prevention action plan in collaboration with different extern actors. This plan aims to identify hotspots on one hand and to envisage concrete measures in these sensitive places on the other hand. The number of suicides on railway property is important in Belgium and fluctuates between 90 and 100 per year. Despite a significant decrease in 2010, 2011 was the worst year since 2004. Until now, concrete measures are implemented first in the hotspots.

The RESTRAIL project is an opportunity for Infrabel to take part in an international and multidisciplinary experience bringing together not only railway actors but also research centres, universities and industries. This participation gives us a chance to exchange our points of view on the measures to prevent suicides, to be informed about the new developments in the industry and also to see how other countries manage this problem.


The number of accidents involving collisions with individuals on France’s national rail network has been increasing for several years now. These events are mostly suicide attempts by desperate people.

They have a major impact on the railway’s ability to run traffic smoothly, and cause significant delays to services (1,000 minutes lost per accident, on average).

Alongside the railway undertakings active in France and government bodies, the Rail Traffic Division’s Traffic Department is analysing the way these events are handled, and is endeavouring to identify improvements which will help mitigate their impact.

In partnership with government authorities, an “Intervention Guide for the Rail Environment” has been created, addressing five typical situations arising on the French national rail network which have a particularly critical impact on passengers in terms of punctuality, and which can lead to the risk of further accidents or public disorder, including accidents involving collisions with individuals.

Mid-term conference

The next RESTRAIL mid-term conference will be held on 12 June 2013 in Paris at the UIC Headquarters.


1. UIC Coordinator contacts: Jacques Colliard – [email protected] and Marie-Hélène Bonneau – [email protected]

2. The views expressed are purely those of the writer and may not in any circumstances be regarded as stating an official position of the European Commission

3. National ERADIS data was used when available. The missing information was taken from UIC Safety Database when possible.


Jacques Colliard has been Head of the UIC Security Division since March 2003. Jacques resp – onsibilities include leading of the team, elaborating political and technical issues and giving presentations and congresses and events.

Results of WP1

The statistical analysis showed that 2,854 railway suicides and 782 trespassing fatalities occurred in Europe in 2010 (see Table 1, page 49). The literature review highlighted the main differences and similarities between these events and discussed the preventive measures. These measures can be applied to both events or be specifically targeted to prevent either railway suicides or trespassing accidents. The more detailed incident data analysis showed that data was most often received concerning the age, gender, timing of events and locations whereas the least information was received concerning the access point, mental health and distance from incident location to home or to closest mental hospital. Accident investigation practices and processes vary between countries. The Railway Safety Directive sets the minimum requirements for data collection, but does not regulate the investigation process otherwise. The classification on whether the case was a suicide or accident is most often made by the police or a coroner. All countries collect data on the consequences of railway accidents caused by suicide and/or trespassing. The most commonly collected data concerns the delays caused (duration, frequency, number of train) and the damage to humans. The behavioural data collection analysed material from existing documentation and company records and included four new studies which were conducted to collect behavioural data covering a combination of suicide and trespass context. The results of WP1 provide valuable input to railway community since it is the first attempt to collect information on railway suicides and trespassers together, from a broad range of countries and data sources.


Anne Silla Research Scientist at VTT Traffic Safety and RESTRAIL WP1 Leader


One of the major concerns in safety and operations on European railroads are the suicides and trespasses, leading to traffic disruptions, severely affecting train staff, rescue services and passengers having at the same time important related costs for the industry.

RESTRAIL properly addresses some of these key challenges. The RESTRAIL consortium (partners) – covering a diverse and relevant range of stakeholders – has the competencies and the opportunity to make a positive step forward, even a step change in European rail safety.

I would like to wish RESTRAIL a lot of success in its efforts to produce tangible and cost effective results and I look forward to seeing the proposed solutions turned into real applications for the benefit of the European railways2.


Alexandra Gurau European Commission, DG Research & Innovation, Surface Transport and Project Officer for RESTRAIL




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