Tube drivers – much like estate agents, politicians and traffic wardens – aren’t the most popular of professionals. They’re pretty much hated by every Londoner who’s ever had a tube delayed because of a strike. Not to mention there’s a common consensus that they’re taking the piss a bit every time they demand a pay rise. More than a few people think that their job is a lot easier than they make out.
That might not be the case though, after a Freedom Of Information request by a London newspaper revealed that Transport for London (TfL) spend on average £136,200 every year on counselling for their tube drivers.
Apparently several drivers each year are left needing therapy sessions as a result of ‘passenger under the train’ incidents – which essentially refers to suicide attempts by passengers who have thrown themselves under oncoming trains. And to be fair, you can see how that might fuck with a driver’s head a little bit.
In the past 24 months, 2 tube drivers have retired just months after being involved in passenger suicides – though TfL refused to confirm a connection between the incidents and the drivers decisions to exit the profession.
2015 saw the highest spending yet on counselling for tube drivers, with a whopping £145,000 going towards the cause. The figure has risen since 2011, when the department spent £130,000, followed by £140,000 in 2012, £136,000 in 2013 and £130,000 in 2014.
The money apparently pays for an in-house team of 9 counsellors. However, tube drivers also have the option to attend a voluntary ‘Trauma Support Group’ or to get in touch with a 24 hour helpline.
A spokeswoman for TfL justified the spending, saying:
Suicides and fatalities are thankfully relatively rare on London Underground, but tragically they occur from time to time on all transport networks.
Each incident is traumatic for everyone involved.
The well-being of our staff is one of our top priorities, and those involved in an accident will understandably be affected.
She went on to explain that over the last 15 years they’ve made efforts to reduce suicide attempts, such as placing Samaritans telephones and posters in stations to act as a deterrent and an alternative ‘way out’ of the individuals suicidal mindset.
Another spokesperson for the mental health charity Mind praised TfL’s decision to spend such large numbers on counselling services for staff:
Tube drivers who experience these tragic and difficult situations at work should be given the appropriate help and support. It is good to see that TfL are taking steps to invest in the mental health and well-being of their staff.
I guess this is a prime example of why it’s important to remember everyone has their own shit to deal with and that getting angry at someone for something that is realistically out of their control doesn’t solve anything. Or you can do the exact opposite, like this guy that ran over a traffic warden just for doing his job.