96 people have taken their lives on Irish rail lines since 2000
on 29/01/2013 00:00:00
In 2001 and 2004, the number of deaths reached 11. The figures were provided to the minister by the Railway Safety Commission.
In his response to the parliamentary question from Labour TD Seán Kenny, Mr Varadkar said RSC had highlighted the fact the Irish rail network is an open system, and anyone purchasing a ticket can enter a station through the ticket barriers.
He said he had asked Irish Rail to provide Mr Kenny with information on specific railway safety measures and staff training to reduce the incidences of suicide.
A spokeswoman for Irish Rail pointed out that, in train stations around the country, posters for organisations such as the Samaritans are prominently displayed, appealing to people who are suicidal to seek help, and that the rail company works with such charities on the issue of suicide.
She did, however, point out that, for example, on the Cork-Dublin train, if someone were to stand in front of the train when it was at its optimum speed, there would be nothing the driver could do, as it takes up to a quarter of a mile to bring it to a stop.
Given the unfortunate but very real risk that a driver might, through no fault of his or her own, be involved in one or even several suicide incidents on the tracks, the issue is addressed as part of driver training.
Those drivers who are involved in such an incident are provided with counselling in the aftermath.
As well as the driver, the spokeswoman also pointed out that the aftermath of the suicide meant a traumatic experience for the person tasked with clearing the line.