INTRO: Mirror, mirror on the floor

Coy Japanese are starting to address the issues arising from a doubling in suicides over the last 20 years, particularly now that more and more people are choosing ’public’ methods such as jumping under trains. Faced with substantial costs when services must be halted to recover the bodies, East Japan Railway initially tried the rather harsh remedy of charging the families of suicides. How this was supposed to reduce the incidence of suicide is not recorded, but JR-E is now trying more caring methods of deterrence.

One idea is that the calming effect of certain colours could help soothe the minds of those with suicidal tendencies, a bluey-green shade being recommended by psychologists. As well as painting these colours in locations favoured by suicides, JR East is also to try placing mirrors between the tracks on the theory that would-be suicides might be deterred by seeing their own reflections before jumping - ’look before you leap’, perhaps?

INTRO: Pour encourager les autres

Many years have passed since NYCTA President David Gunn caused apoplexy amongst senior officials by travelling to work on the subway. It’s certainly arguable that public transport might be a great deal better if those responsible for running it actually used the services they deem fit for others. In his election campaign, London’s new mayor Ken Livingstone made great play of his daily use of the tube, and he has made known his intention to sweep away official cars used by senior public transport personnel.

They know a thing or two about this in Taipei, where a big push is under way to encourage public and city employees to set an example by going to work on the metro. Mayor Ma Ying-jeou is reported to be using a secondhand cycle to get to his local station, but there were red faces when the city’s Director of Information caught the wrong train and ended up at Lungshan Temple instead of City Hall. Admirable though the policy is, its effect may be muted - the campaign insists municipal officials take the metro to work on the third Tuesday of each month.

INTRO: The train now arriving ...

Barely time to recover from the excesses of the Cannes film festival before we’re off to Paris for the 9th Cinerail International. Corporate communications, cinema, television and railway people gather in early June to see 77 railway films shot in 26 countries. Amongst them will be the winner of the Cinerail Century Classic competition for the most accomplished short railway film. This commemorates the 105th anniversary of the first moving picture - which was also the first railway film ever made - the Lumière Brothers’ Arrivée d’un train en gare de la Ciotat. Public screenings will take place at the UIC’s offices.