Colas Rail onboard to support mental wellbeing of railway staff

Colas Rail UK has pledged to support the Railway Mental Health Charter (RHMC), the first-ever framework set up to support mental wellbeing within the rail industry. The RHMC was developed in collaboration with passenger operator Southeastern Railway, the Railway Safety and Standards Board, and the Mental Wellbeing Group (MWB), which works with the rail industry on behalf of all employees, and promotes cultural change in the industry.

The UK rail industry has been acutely aware of mental health issues for a long time. It has been even more so during the two years of the pandemic. While there have been many initiatives aimed at rail users, the Railway Mental Health Charter is a framework for the industry to promote, manage and support workforce mental wellbeing. The Charter provides targeted actions and resources for improving mental health within the workforce, and the MWB helps deliver the charter objectives.

Encourage conversation about mental health

Specialist infrastructure support operator Colas Rail UK, signatories to the Charter, also have their own ongoing mental health action plan. “After the period of uncertainty we’ve all faced during the Covid-19 pandemic, it’s more important than ever to take care of our wellbeing and the wellbeing of our colleagues and families”, said Paul Taylor, the Quality, Health, Safety and Environment Director for Colas. “The Railway Mental Health Charter is a great first step towards making these industrywide changes for the better and ensuring that we at Colas Rail UK share and implement the latest good practices.”

A trained railway worker counsels a depressed man (Network Rail)

The Charter aims to encourage conversation about mental health to prevent the onset of issues like workplace stress. All member workplaces to engage with and embrace the mental health agenda. The delivery group intend to make good practice and information available to member organisations and support the industry to end mental health stigma.

Network Rail working too

Infrastructure agency Network Rail has also been running its own initiatives, including the popular Rail Wellbeing Live event. Last year, a record 16,000 people from 600 organisations took part and several high profile celebrities from stage screen and sport. “I’m really proud of how Rail Wellbeing Live has evolved into such a large industry event”, said John Halsall, chair of the Rail Wellbeing Alliance for Network Rail. “I’d like to thank everyone for being part of our mission to encourage everyone to share and talk about issues relating to health and wellbeing.”

Network Rail is also working with ‘The Samaritans’ support organisation to help combat the continuing tragedy of suicide on the railway. More than 20,000 rail colleagues in the UK are now trained in suicide prevention techniques, aiming to reach even more. Sadly, they may be needed. According to figures from the RSSB, around 250 incidents are reported each year across the network.

Featured image of a Colas train on Ribblehead Viaduct by Angus Stewart.

Author: Simon Walton

Simon Walton is RailFreight's UK correspondent.

Add your comment

characters remaining.

Log in through one of the following social media partners to comment.