A systematic review of the literature on safety measures to prevent railway suicides and trespassing accidents

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date


Subject Area

literature review - literature review, mode - rail, planning - safety/accidents


Train-pedestrian fatalities, Railway suicide, Trespass, Prevention, Countermeasures


This review covers a central aspect in railway safety which is the prevention of suicides and trespassing accidents. The paper attempts to answer the following research question: ‘What measures are available to reduce railway suicide and trespass, and what is the evidence for their effectiveness?’ The review is based on 139 relevant publications, ranging from 1978 to 2014. The analysis aimed to identify the past and current trend in the prevention practice by looking both quantitatively and qualitatively at the recommended measures. According to the results, there has been a constant focus on suicide prevention, and only relatively recent interest in trespass countermeasures. The content analysis revealed 19 main preventative categories which include more than 100 specific measures. We identified 16 common categories against railway suicide and trespass, and 3 categories of specific measures to prevent suicide. There are only 22 studies which provide empirical support for the effectiveness of measures. Actual combinations of measures are barely evaluated, but several challenges emerge from the literature. The discussion focuses on the need for a unified approach to suicide and trespass prevention, and on the importance to consider the effect mechanism of the measures in order to design better interventions.


Permission to publish the abstract has been given by Elsevier, copyright remains with them.


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