The Gatwick Airport station has seen its highest rate of suicides over the past year, prompting the change to the new lights. Staff are trained to try and help people who are about to attempt suicide but obviously it can be hard to predict. Network Rail are also looking to prevent littering and anti-social behaviour.
The reason behind the blue lights is that it is believed to elevate people’s moods and change their behaviour. They took an example from Tokyo’s Yamanote Line where they installed blue lights on the platform after a number pf suicides. The lights are meant to affect people in one of three ways. The first is that blue is thought to make people calmer and therefore change their mood and behaviour. The second reason is that blue light is associated with authority particularly the police. The third reason is that something a bit different has its own effect.
Smaller changes have also been made to the platform to distract and engage people such as plants or children’s drawings. It also makes it a more pleasant atmosphere.
Network Rails Senior Asset Engineer, Terry Denyer, said:
We’ve seen a fair increase in rail suicides over the past year and in recent months especially. We’ve looked at what they’ve done around the world and the leaders on this are the Chinese and the Japanese. They have a much higher suicide rate than us. [In Japan] after they installed the blue lights, suicides fell by 85%. They’ve also used them at level crossings and anti-social behaviour and vandalism are down. They’re now looking at using it in motorway service stations. They’ve done a lot of work on these blue lights, so rather than trying to reinvent the wheel, we followed their line. Our safety team has put a lot of work into making a better environment, a calmer environment.