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£1.2m to prevent rail suicide delays on Brighton to London line
More than £1 million will be invested in train stations across Sussex to prevent track suicides from causing widespread disruption to Brighton to London commuters.
Nearly 100,000 passenger journeys are made every day on First Capital Connect’s (FCC) Bedford to Brighton service alone, and there have been 34 fatalities since April 1.
Eight of the 34 fatalities, which happened on the Brighton main line, caused FCC 4,000 minutes of delays and affected about 300 trains and as recent as last night there were cancellations to trains because of a body on the track in Hendon.
Commuters leaving from St Pancras would have faced delays of up to an hour.
A FCC spokesman said: “There were a further five on the north side of the Thameslink route from London to Bedford and another 21 at locations off the route which nevertheless affected Brighton mainline services.
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“We do not manage the stations on the Brighton mainline, however, Network Rail is investing £1.2 million in the stations we do manage elsewhere on the First Capital Connect network to reduce the likelihood of fatalities.”
According to Network Rail’s statistics, eight fatalities were recorded on routes from London Victoria to Sussex last year, and that total has already reached eight from April to September this year.
The investment by Network Rail was announced at a meeting hosted by Green MP for Brighton Pavilion Caroline Lucas, and will go towards end of platform fencing, fencing that blocks the fast lines, platform marking and signs.
Describing the public meeting held at the Old Ship Hotel on Tuesday, she said: “It was a very worthwhile meeting, and a range of issues were discussed.
“People were frustrated at a whole host of issues – everything from high fares to tray-tables that don’t work – and had a lot of ideas.”
Since January, there have been ten fatalities on the Brighton Main Line between Brighton and Victoria or London Bridge, a line that is operated by Southern Rail.
A Southern spokesman said: “In recent years, we have installed suicide prevention measures at some of our stations in the Croydon area which have taken the formof suicide prevention fencing help to people from the fast lines.”
One of these suicides took place at Hassocks on April 25 when 58-year-old Carole- Anne White stepped in front of a train.
Bereft husband Philip Dunn, one of Brighton’s most notable painters, told The Argus in April he could not fathom what had happened and was finding it almost impossible to carry on with his life without the his wife.
Charley Hill, who witnessed the incident, said: “The only thing I can think about is how horrible a situation it must be for the driver of the train who has to live with that for the rest of his life.”
Network Rail, Southern and FCC all work closely with the Samaritans, who train railway staff to help identify people displaying behaviour that may lead to suicide and how to deal with prevention.
Rachel Kirby-Rider, executive director of fundraising and communications at Samaritans, said: “So far, nearly 5,000 rail industry staff have been trained by Samaritans in how to identify and approach potentially suicidal people on the rail network, many of whom have helped people exhibiting suicidal behaviour.
“We’ve also developed a response service to ensure support is available at stations in the aftermath of an incident.
“We are doing everything we can to let people know that anyone can call Samaritans at any time.”
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