Last night, Thursday 21st September 2017, GB Railfreight (GBRf) Train Managers, Steve Read and Sam Lawrence, won a National Rail Award for Outstanding Personal Contribution Life-changer, for preventing a suicide of a distressed person at Milton Keynes Central.
GB Railfreight (GBRf) Train Managers Steve Read and Sam Lawrence were on a training run with a GBRf trainee on the 92044 0Z92 towards Milton Keynes in March 2017 when they spotted a Virgin Voyager train sitting on the Down Fast line on a signal caution.
Thinking this was unusual, Steve spotted a distressed individual sitting on the trackside wall by the Up Slow line, ready to jump onto the tracks. Steve immediately put in a call via the Global System for Mobile Communications Railway (GSMR) to Rugby to update the control centre on what was happening. Under the two train managers’ guidance, the trainee brought the locomotive to a stop at Milton Keynes platform 1 so Steve and Sam could investigate. Steve made a call on the platform phone explaining they would phone the British Transport Police (BTP) at Milton Keynes to report the incident.
Steve and Sam then witnessed the individual climb down from the trackside wall onto the tracks, walking onto the Up Slow and towards the Up Fast line. Steve immediately contacted the signal box to request an all-lines block. When it was safe to do so, Sam went down onto the Up Slow Cess and walked towards the individual, while Steve kept the signal box controllers updated.
Sam was able to reach the individual to stop them walking any further, and began to calm the individual down. Having updated the signal controllers, Steve walked up to the other side of the individual to prevent them venturing onto the lines. The individual was highly distressed and expressing suicidal intent. Sam kept the individual talking calmly while Steve gestured to the BTP officer to stay back as not to scare the individual. Steve and Sam guided the individual to safety on the platform where he was met by the BTP. Sam continued to comfort the individual as Steve requested that the all-lines block was lifted so services could resume.
Steve and Sam then departed again on the 9204, continuing their training run towards the Traction Maintenance Depot.
In preventing what could have been a tragic incident, both Steve and Sam demonstrated quick thinking, composure and compassion. Their outstanding teamwork in reacting calmly and professionally to this incident made a real difference, and provided a real crisis training situation for the trainee to handle.
The incident will be used to educate GBRf staff in handling similar situations, and serves as an example for the rail industry.
Both GBRf staff were praised by Network Rail for their handling of the incident.
Steve Rhymes, Head of Freight Network Management at Network Rail said:
“I’d like to offer Network Rails thanks to GB Railfreight Drivers Steve Read and Sam Lawrence whose quick thinking and prompt action prevented a potential harmful situation when a member of the public entered the railway at Milton Keynes.
“The drivers use of GSMR to quickly bring services to a standstill and alert the signaller, as well as their sensitive treatment of the individual when he was trackside intent on causing himself harm, was a great example of the positive impact that rail staff can have when witnessing events on the railway.
“Steve and Sam looked after the individual until the British Transport Police arrived and then called the signaller to reopen the railway once safe to do so.
“A shining example of going the extra mile.”
John Smith, Managing Director of GBRf has said:
“Steve and Sam’s actions exemplify the kind of culture we engender here at GBRf and demonstrate the calibre or people that we seek to employ. Their award is fully deserved and welcome recognition of their actions and we hope to use their example to inspire and educate a new generation of train managers and staff”.
The category was judged by RAIL on the grounds of doing something truly exceptional, either by saving a life or preventing a serious incident on the railway. The judges felt that to properly recognise this would take a special award to honour those that have gone above and beyond in their everyday duties to change someone’s life.