Since 2001, there has been on average 109 fatalities on the Australian rail network annually, with 76 of these people taking their own life. As well, there are almost as many attempted suicides as suicides annually, around 30 injuries at a level crossing or because of trespass and around 2,000 level crossing and trespass near hits each year.
It must be remembered that each of these numbers is a person and each death or injury has impacted the individual, families, and friends. Beyond the human loss, injury and grief, these incidents can cause trauma and work-related stress to the rail and recovery staff involved with incidents. Many of these events cause an absence from work and the risk of acute and chronic health and wellness issues can have ongoing impacts and affect their return to work. Safe Work Australia have grouped train drivers with first responders as one of the most at-risk occupations for work-related mental disorders.
More information about the impact on the train driver is explained here.
Incidents also cause disruption and delays to hundreds of services each year, impacting customers and economic efficiency. The average annual economic burden of railway safety incidents in Australia during the period 2007-2015 was estimated to be approximately $360.1 million.
To address these issues, the TrackSAFE Foundation undertakes activities to prevent suicide, reduce injuries and incidents on the rail network, and improve the wellbeing of the rail workforce.
A summary of fatalities and injuries on the Australian rail network from 2001-2019 is available here.
The TrackSAFE Foundation has prepared a report to increase knowledge about suicide and attempted suicide incidents on the Australian rail network and inform prevention activities. The 2001-2019 report is available here and the 2020 information is here.
Other useful resources:
Office of the National Rail Safety Regulator, Key occurrences interactive data
Office of the National Rail Safety Regulator, annual Rail Safety Reports