SCOTRAIL has sparked a flurry of protests after explaining to passengers that a body on the line was the reason for hold-ups to services on an Edinburgh main line.
The national rail operator has been criticised after sending out a message on Twitter about delays on lines servicing Edinburgh Park.
In a short statement sent to more than 25,000 followers on the social media forum, the company said: “Owing to a person hit by a train at Edinburgh Park the line is blocked.”
Commuters and followers unhappy with the blunt announcement immediately took to Twitter to vent their feelings.
One passenger, @AddictedtoTweed, said: “Really Scotrail? How sensitively put! #Blunt&ToThePoint”. While another Twitter user, James Bennett, responded with: “What’s wrong with “disruption” #bitgrim.”
Another traveller, @playthemusicx, tweeted: “Why does this have to pop up on my TL? rip buddy:-(.”
Mental health campaigners have seized on the social media faux pas, citing the release as an example of how not to do it.
It is also believed British Transport Police have held discussions with ScotRail about re-wording such tweets – to avoid offending people in future.
Suzie Vestri, director of Scottish mental health alliance See Me, said ScotRail had made a mistake in issuing the announcement en masse to passengers via Twitter.
She said: “I feel that ScotRail didn’t quite get it right. They may have felt they were doing it for the right reasons, in terms of promoting openness, but I don’t think it would have helped in that situation.
“How can you properly have a conversation about mental health or suicide in 140 characters or less? I think that ScotRail may have felt they were trying to do the right thing in that on the one hand, there are campaigns saying that we need to talk about suicide openly and we do.
“But on the other hand, there’s evidence that shows that in reporting, for example, you shouldn’t be too specific because that can encourage copycat behaviour. It strikes me that what ScotRail have done falls horribly in between these two in the sense that they may have felt they were being open and honest in talking about suicide, but what they’ve done is to flag up the issue of suicide.
“If you say to passengers or the public ‘somebody’s been hit by a train’, I think there’s quite an emotional impact for people from that and yet you’re not allowing for any follow up, or to answer people’s questions.
“People might have wanted to ask ‘how was the person?’ People feel quite impacted by that.
“They may have felt they were wanting to be more open about suicide, and I can understand that, but they’re never going to be in a position to reassure people. They’re not having a conversation, they’re making an announcement.”
Trains travelling on the North Clyde and Edinburgh to Dunblane lines use the station where the incident occurred on Friday night.
The phrase “person hit by a train” has become the standard wording used by all British train operating companies, including National Rail Enquiries.
A ScotRail spokesman said: “The wording in tragic incidents of this nature is agreed across the industry.
“It is designed to provide travellers with clear and consistent travel advice while also maintaining respect for the person involved in such an incident.
“The objectives are to keep people informed of disruption and to prevent any confusion as to the cause of the incident.”
A British Transport Police spokesman confirmed an 18-year-old man had been killed by a train at Edinburgh Park at about 9.15pm.
The spokesman said: “There are no suspicious circumstances.”