Special cameras suggested to prevent rail deaths near Barlaston
NEW cameras which detect movement could be installed in a bid to prevent deaths on a stretch of railway.
Seven people have been killed by trains in the Barlaston area in just 14 months, sparking calls for safety improvements.
The most recent victim was 52-year-old Margaret Welch, of Galingale View, Newcastle, who died on Saturday night.
The deaths prompted MP Bill Cash to call a public meeting at Barlaston Village Hall yesterday to discuss the issue.
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Network Rail (NR) representatives told residents at the meeting that it was considering conducting a trial of new technology in the area.
NR customer relationship executive Mark Goodall said: "We are currently discussing new technology that could help us identify people who are potentially suicidal on CCTV.
"Using technology that detects movement past certain points, we would effectively be monitoring vulnerable areas 24/7. It can potentially pinpoint objects on the line, and potentially track them.
"If someone was detected it would send a message to our operators, who would communicate with the trains.
"We are still in the discussion phase. We are hoping to do a trial in this area."
On average about 200 people die on the country's railways each year.
Network Rail is working with the Samaritans on a national strategy to cut the number of people who take their own lives on the railways, which make up four per cent of suicides.
Its staff are being trained to spot potential victims and how to approach them to offer help.
Ola Rzepczynska, left, from the Samaritans, said the same training could be extended to villagers in Barlaston.
She said: "If there was enough interest we could see whether a course could be run for local residents on how to approach someone who is feeling vulnerable and considering suicide, how to bring people to a place of safety and refer them to the Samaritans.
"Stoke Samaritans have a range of materials including contact cards that can be carried around. And if you come across someone who is potentially in distress you could give them one."
Barlaston parish councillor John Russell said the track should be more secure to prevent people getting onto it, and questioned the fencing in the area.
He said: "People seem to be able to gain access to the line. Is the fencing adequate?"
The meeting was also attended by Ian Prosser, Her Majesty's Chief Inspector of Railways, who said he would check the barriers were up to the standard.
If you feel you may want to take your own life or are concerned about someone else who might, talk to the Samaritans on 08457 90 90 90. Alternatively contact your GP.