THE grandmother of a teenager who died at a North-East railway station last week has welcomed community calls for action to increase safety measures.

A petition has been launched online, which has attracted more than 2,000 signatures, appealing for action at Chester-le-Street station.

The MP for North Durham, Kevan Jones, a mental health charity and the families of two people who had died at the station, welcomed any measures that could make it safer.

It follows the tragic death of former Hermitage Academy pupil, 17-year-old Jamie McKitten last Wednesday.

The Northern Echo: Over £7,000 has been raised by friends of Jamie McKitten

Speaking to The Northern Echo, Jamie’s grandmother Shelley McKitten Wardle said: “I think if it can stop just one person, then I would be quite happy to support the petition for measures.”

READ MORE: Jamie McKitten: Tributes to tragic teen after rail death

The petition, on, which has been addressed to Network Rail, Durham County Council and Mr Jones, has suggested either round-the-clock security, barriers or gated access is implemented at the railway station.

Meanwhile, a number of teenagers from the town have contacted Mr Jones asking him to help.

Last night, Mr Jones paid tribute to Jamie and said: “This is a terrible tragedy, and I knew Jamie and his family very well.

“I have this week written to Network Rail asking for a meeting to discuss what can be done to avoid future tragedies and I recognise the campaign of individuals.

“What I would say to them is please keep campaigning and speaking about mental health.”

The Northern Echo: Lisa McGuffie, left, with son, Chris McGuffie Picture: CONTRIBUTORLisa McGuffie, left, with son, Chris McGuffie Picture: CONTRIBUTOR

Lisa McGuffie, who lost her son, Chris McGuffie, in 2018, welcomed the addition of extra measures, including a person monitoring the station on a 24-hour basis.

Ms McGuffie, who used to live in the town, said: “My son suffered from mental health, they say there is help there, but it is not always when it is needed.

“There are just so many avenues they need to go down to get help. They need to put something in place.”

Matthew Smith, of the Chester-le-Street-based charity If U Care Share – a foundation that works for prevention, intervention and supporting those bereaved by suicide - echoed calls for the safety measures at the station as the charity said there needs to be more conversation about mental health at school age.

He said: “If there’s any measures, if there’s anything that can be put in place, it’s worthwhile doing it.

"Reducing the risk and access could be lifesaving and it’s something we will support in any way we can.

“The conversation has to be further than just something to restrict people – it needs to be about getting them people that support, not just about preventing that.

“There needs to be more education for younger people around how they can manage their mental health better, how they can deal with their mental health concerns.”

Mr Smith, who said calls to its charity had gone up 400 per cent in the last 12 months, said more awareness on seeking help and support is needed.

He said: “There needs to be more awareness for those suffering, being able to access support – we still need to create that environment where people are able to seek help.

"We need to get people to take that step back and take that breather and remember there is hope.”

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Acting on concerns it has been made aware of, Durham County Council said it is open to working with those responsible for the station to ensure it is safe.

Dave Wafer, the council’s head of transport and contract services, said: “We would like to express our sincerest condolences to family and friends following the tragic news this week.

“We are saddened by what has happened, and we are open to working with the agencies who are responsible for the station to ensure the safety of our residents and visitors.”

A spokesman for Northern Railway, which manages the station, said CCTV is due to be installed at the site in the near future.

He said: “Northern works in partnership with Samaritans, Network Rail and British Transport Police to make a positive impact for those who are feeling vulnerable.

“There has been a significant amount of improvement work in and around the station to prevent trespass and unauthorised access to the tracks. CCTV is due to be installed in the near future.

“Northern also works with Samaritans to train rail staff to look out for people who might need help, start a conversation with those in need, offering their support and getting them to safety.

"To date, more than 20,000 rail staff and BTP officers have been trained in suicide prevention.”

In response, a spokesperson for Network Rail said: “Any life lost on the railway is one too many and we work tirelessly with the Samaritans, British Transport Police, train operators and other partners to tackle this issue.

"This includes running awareness campaigns, patrols and increasing fencing and CCTV nationwide, amongst many other initiatives.

"Collaboration is absolutely key and we will continue to work with stakeholders and partners locally and nationally on this issue and provide support to those who need it.”

To view the petition - click here

If you are in need of support you can contact the following:

- Samaritans ar available, day or night, 365 days of the year. You can call them for free on 116 123, email them at, or visit to find your nearest branch.

- If U Care Share on 0191 387 5661 or text IUCS to 85258

- SANE on 07984 967 708, Calm on 0800 58 58 58

- Tees, Esk and Wear Valleys NHS Foundation Trust crisis line 0800 0516 171.