Rail Pastors  

Rail Pastor

Experienced volunteers who save lives

Rail Pastors are trained volunteers who look out for vulnerable and distressed people on the rail network. 

Sadly, 305 people are believed to have taken their own lives on the railway in 2015/16, with our officers being called to 9,381 pre-suicidal and mental health incidents.

Our suicide prevention strategy includes training for frontline staff and sees BTP staff sat side-by-side with NHS community nurses, providing information for officers involved in incidents on the ground.

Last year we made 1,269 life-saving interventions, but we can always do more. We are committed to working with mental health charities, the rail industry and voluntary organisations to save lives on the railway. That’s where Rail Pastors come in…

A reassuring presence in your time of crisis

Rail Pastors are a group of trained volunteers who are based in areas which experience high numbers of suicidal incidents.

They were set up in August 2014 in response to a number of suicides in the Barnet area. In their first year of operation, they conducted 30 patrols, saved three lives and, as an indirect outcome, reduced crime by 27%.

Rail Pastor at a stationRail pastors do not preach, but provide a caring, listening and reassuring presence. Their mission is to reach out to people in moments of crisis, offering compassion and understanding, taking the time to listen to concerns in order to move the person to a place of safety.

The scheme is a joint initiative between BTP, the Ascension Trust, train operators, Network Rail and Samaritans, aimed at saving lives and reducing disruption on the rail network.

The majority of Rail Pastors are already experienced Street Pastors, who have received training on rail safety and security, emergency procedures and have undertaken a Samaritans Managing Suicidal Contacts course.

As of January 2017, there are 100 pastors operating out of five schemes: Barnet, Barking and Dagenham, Reading, Fife and Birmingham.

Rail Pastor report

Rail Pastor’s complete a report for every shift they undertake. Paul Lewis coordinates the Barnet scheme. Here’s his account of a busy week in December 2016.

Paul Lewis's Rail Pastor report

Need help?

We support Samaritans’ ‘We Listen’ campaign which seeks to reduce the number of suicides on the railway.

If you need to talk to someone please visit Samaritans’ webpage or call them free on
116 123.

Samaritans

Our partnersRail Pastor - Partners