The aim of this study was to describe the frequency of fatalities, timing of collisions and characteristics of persons killed in train–pedestrian collisions on Finnish railways during 2005–2009. In addition, the Finnish results were compared with those collected in Sweden. The Finnish data were combined from five different sources. The results showed that 311 pedestrians were killed in train–pedestrian collisions, including 264 suicides, 35 accidents and 12 unclassified events. For each event type, most of the victims were male. Most suicide victims were in the 20–29 year age group and on average younger than people who chose some other form of suicide. About half of all victims were intoxicated by alcohol, medicines and/or drugs. Both suicides and accidents occurred most often at the end of the week but no specific peak for time of year was found. Suicides occurred most frequently from afternoon to night and accidents during the rush hours. Most train–pedestrian fatalities happened in densely populated areas. In conclusion, the effective prevention of railway suicides and accidents calls for a systems approach involving effective measures introduced by authorities responsible for urban planning, railways, education and public health.