RED 68: Work-related violence: how rail is fighting back

Featured story
Everyone should be able to do their jobs without someone threatening, assaulting or harming them. But on the railway’s front line, sadly, that isn’t always the case. In fact, RSSB statistics show that a staggering 94.1% of frontline staff have experienced workplace abuse—a slap in the face for a group of people who were heroes during the Covid lockdowns.

During 2023, 171 incidents resulted in staff taking time off. This is above pre-pandemic levels. It is also the highest number in the last five years.

RED 68 explores the ways the rail industry is working to address work-related violence more effectively. Our reconstruction involves what you could call – sadly – an ‘everyday incident’ for some colleagues. A drunken passenger is abusive to other passengers, and staff. As tensions rise, an assault takes place and British Transport Police (BTP) officers rush to the scene.


BTP’s Inspector Keith Barnes describes how incidents like this can escalate. He also notes how body-worn cameras can be both a deterrent and an aid to evidence-gathering once an assault has occurred.

Joana Faustino, RSSB’s Principal Health and Wellbeing Specialist also takes us through the options for post-incident support. This can include simply speaking to your line manager or seeking the aid of your local occupational health service. Peer support is vital at times like this, but so too is your own doctor, and of course the Samaritans can offer so much to help anyone suffering in times of stress.

RED 68 also looks to other passenger behaviours that are causing concern for the industry. Tony Ellis, RSSB’s Professional Head of Public Safety, leads a discussion on incidents involving people sitting on the platform edge, or ‘SOPE’. Cases are being reported up and down the country, but more reports are needed if we are to get to grips with any emerging trends.

Similarly, more people – particularly younger people – are retrieving items, like mobile phones, from the track without informing staff so the line can be blocked. The message is again to report these incidents, but also to make sure we signpost people to speak to staff if they do drop their phone, or wallet or watch onto the line.

Haven’t found what you’re looking for?
Get in touch with our expert for more information.