The effectiveness of trackside fencing in preventing railway suicides – research findings

This study finds that the length of fencing on the railway network may be an important determinant of its effectiveness in reducing railway suicide. It found a significant suicide prevention effect of fencing installed to prevent intruders accessing the track at known problem locations on the railway network, only when the fencing was greater than 100 metres in length.

In recent years small amounts of standard fencing (not mid-track fencing) have progressively been installed on the railway network in metropolitan Victoria. To examine whether this was an effective railway suicide prevention measure, the researchers used data from the Victorian Suicide Register to test whether the incidence of railway suicide occurring near to sites where fencing was installed changed after the installation of the fencing.

The study identified a 57% decrease in the rate of railway suicides within a 1000m radius of sites where the fencing was more than 100m in length. This finding is relatively consistent with other suicide prevention research that has demonstrated superior results of interventions that completely, rather than partially, restrict access to means at a site.

This study led by Dr Angela Clapperton from the Centre for Mental Health, Melbourne School of Population and Global Health, The University of Melbourne was published in August 2023. It is one of a number of publications resulting from a research project supported by TrackSAFE.

Access the full paper here.

See other papers published as part of this research project:

10 September 2023