Rail industry news (Australia, New Zealand), Industry Safety

Supporting Train Drivers through trauma

Traumatic incidents on the rail network can have a profound impact on the mental health and well-being of drivers and the wider staff.  

Metro’s Trauma Recovery Guidebook: Volume Two provides layers of support, preparing and supporting drivers in responding to traumatic incidents that occur on network, such as encountering trespassers.  

Metro CEO Raymond O’Flaherty said ensuring the mental and emotional health of the team is just as critical as their physical safety.

“Our train drivers play a pivotal role in ensuring the seamless operation of our network. And in an ideal world, there would be no need for this guidebook,” O’Flaherty said.

“The reality is that our train drivers often face traumatic events such as encountering trespassers on the network, which can have a profound impact on the mental health and well-being of our team members.” 

The Drivers and Train Services team initiated the development of the Trauma Recovery Guidebook to provide comprehensive support and resources for our train drivers. 

The first edition was developed in 2022 and aimed to be a guide to support drivers before and during a traumatic event. This second edition adds to that with new experiences direct from our drivers and more support for their families.   

Metro has 1434 train drivers who are responsible for transporting around 500,000 passengers every day. 

A peer support program has been running for several years where drivers receive trauma support training to be able to help their colleagues through traumatic situations, there are currently 57 peer supporters. 

The Trauma Recovery Guidebook details the process that occurs in the event of a railway incident and the support mechanisms that will be given to drivers. 

This support includes Workcover arrangements, allowing them the time off they need as well as the support to ensure that when they choose to return to work they are ready to do so. 

Metro has a comprehensive Employee Assistance Program available to all staff members and their families to ensure they have the tools and support to handle traumatic incidents as well as the challenges that come from daily life. 

Ian Webb has been a train driver for 10 years, and is now involved in training new drivers. 

He has had four previous near misses and one fatality which occurred in April 2023. 

Following this incident he took several weeks off work and was supported all the way through to his return. 

He now spends his working life training new drivers, and takes his experiences into the classroom to ensure they are ready for the reality of driving a train.