8.1 Intermediate fencing between tracks

This measure (also known as mid-track fencing) consists of the installation of a fence between the tracks (rail corridors) in station areas. The aim is to limit the access to tracks where trains are passing through the stations without stopping and movement from one platform to another by blocking the pedestrian’s possibility to cross the tracks.
  • For practical grounds there needs to be a gate in the linear fence to provide access to the tracks in case this is needed.
  • Fences as low as 1 m (0.85 above track head) have shown to prevent suicide, but a fence of 2,0 m that is not possible to climb would be more desirable (Fredin-Knutzén et al 2022). The fencing should cover the length of the platform with at least 25 m before and after the platform and it is important that there are no breaches in the fence (ibid). The suicide prevention effect requires that the fencing in the area surrounding the station and line is complete (at stations where it protects access from the high speed train tracks passing outside of the commuter train tracks).
  • The systems for securing gates and their use need to be considered. Gates operable with a standard industry carriage key can be, and generally are, provided, to allow access for rail operations and maintenance staff. They are also needed as an escape route in case of emergency.
  • Try to fit the fencing to the trespassing pattern and environment.
  • Try to reinforce the desired behaviour by providing an attractive corridor alternative for biking, hiking, jogging, and walking (such as using an overbridge).
  • Care must be taken to ensure that fences are securely fixed to the ground to avoid any deviation that could have serious consequences for train traffic.
  • Care must be taken with the track gauge to avoid a train with larger than normal gauges encroaching on the fences.
  • Ensure that fences are clearly visible to the public and staff (alternating colours are used in Belgium).
  • Building of fences would also require the building of under- or overpasses to enable safe access from one side of the track to the other. This also applies the other way around. Fencing will likely be considered in conjunction with one or two other measures: surveillance, cameras or operational planning (e.g. fast trains running close to platforms with easy access).
  • The effect is stable assuming that control and maintenance is done. However, trespassers might change location over time and fencing could result in more dangerous routes for trespassers. Therefore, maintain the integrity of the fences and repair defects without delay. At the same time keep monitoring a much wider perimeter than the fenced area in order to spot possible new trespassing locations.
  • May be difficult or impossible to implement on narrow rail corridors since the fence requires some extra space between the tracks. Anti-trespass grids between the tracks can be an alternative in this situation.
  • This measure only prevents trespass by blocking the shortcut in reaching a neighbouring platform by directly crossing the tracks. It cannot physically block someone from jumping in front of the train from the platform edge.
  • The type of fencing needs to be considered - strand, chainlink, paling, security - height, etc.
  • The measure can be applied in different scale and different kinds of environments.
  • Fencing can also be combined with warning or prohibitive signs. The signs can be posted on the fence itself.
  • A pilot study evaluating the effectiveness of preventing railway suicides using mid-track fencing, restricting easy access to high-speed train tracks (Knutzen etal., 2022) demonstrated that the mid-track fencing aimed at means restriction was promising for suicide prevention. Prior to the year 2014, the intervention and control stations displayed similar time trends in the number of suicides. After installation of the mid-track fencing in 2014, there was a 62.5% reduction in the rate of suicides occurring at the intervention station. Compared to the six other control stations, the intervention station displayed a significant reduction in the number of suicides during the years 2014–2021 (OR = 0.14, 95%CI 0.013–0.95). Suicides at the railway lines in-between stations were not increased post-intervention. However, nearby control stations showed a 162% increase in suicides after the intervention, suggesting the induction of transfer effects. The findings from the study suggest it may be important to also have mid-track fencing at nearby stations to prevent transfer effects.
  • In 2020, Infrabel   carried out a pilot project at Londerzeel station by placing 70 cm high fences. Before and after camera analyses showed that this measure was 100% effective. In 2021, Infrabel   decided to equip other hotspots (Froyennes & Herseaux).
  • Proper fencing is seen as one of the most important suicide preventative measures and to prevent trespassing accidents as well (Clarke & Poyner, 1994; Radbo et al., 2012).
  • The most effective measure is to completely restrict access to the railway tracks (Patterson, 2004).
  • Fencing combined with warning signs, posters and education at school: the rate of trespass decreased substantially (from 59% to 40%) and the decrease was sustained and even greater three months later (from 40% to 36%) (Lobb et al., 2001).
  • It is clear that restricting access may hinder a specific attempt, but it does little to prevent subsequent suicidal behaviour in the longer term (Florentine & Crane, 2010).
  • Fencing at stations in Cape Town rail system seems to have done little to reduce injury rates (Lerer & Matzopoulos, 1996).
  • Fencing at platform ends was tested by TCDD   at Aydin station in combination with other measures as part of RESTRAIL   pilot tests conducted in 2014.

last update: 2022-12-01 Print