Monday 21 Jun 2004

- ‘KEEP OFF THE TRACKS AND STAY ALIVE’ -

Region & Route:
| Wales & Western: Wales & Borders
| Wales & Western
RAIL INDUSTRY TARGETS YOUNGSTERS IN RAILWAY SAFETY MESSAGE AS NATIONAL RAILWAY CRIME WEEK IS LAUNCHED ‘Keep off the track and stay alive’ is the stark but simple message that Network Rail and its industry partners delivered this week as National Railway Crime Week (June 21-27) was launched.  With school summer holidays fast approaching the rail industry launched its offensive to educate and warn young people and adults alike of the foolishness of playing on or taking short cuts across the railway.  A new hard hitting short film about the death of a 15-year-old boy as seen through the eyes of his classmates, friends and relatives will form the spearhead of the campaign as the industry targets the main culprits of railway crime: ·     Railway crime hotspots in Wales include Cardiff East, Gowerton, Newport, Port Talbot Parkway and St Fagans (see editor’s notes for details) ·     90% of crime on the railways is committed by young people aged 8-16 yrs (mostly male) ·     There is a crime on the railways every 90 seconds in peak periods (ie. 4-8pm daylight hours) ·     Crime on the railway costs some £260 million each year (see editor’s notes for details) ·     60 people died whilst trespassing on the railway last year (does not include suicides) ·    6 children died in 2003 whilst playing on, or taking short cuts across the railway, 2 of which occurred in Wales - more - Trackoff – 2 ·     St Fagans and Newport are top UK ‘hotspots’ for vandalism with 24 and 21 reported incidents in 2003 respectively ·    Cardiff East and Gowerton are top UK ‘hotspots’ for trespass with 28 reported incidents at both sites in 2003.  Newport is one of the persistently highest ranked hotspots for trespass in the last 5 years During the week, the industry will be highlighting a range local activities aimed at reducing crime on Britain’s rail network, which coincides with National Child Safety Week, providing an opportunity for schools to assist in ramming home the safety message in the run up to the school summer holidays. Tuesday, June 22, will see the national launch of the new hard hitting short film for secondary schools made by the friends of the 15-year-old boy who was killed while playing on the railway. ‘Tyler 4 Ever’ has been made by the students of Soar Valley College, Leicester with the help and support of the rail industry. It is a moving account of how they have dealt with the death of their friend, Tyler Deacon, who died on the Midland Main Line near his home in Leicester last December. The tragedy prompted his schoolmates to tell their story in the hope that other teenagers will heed the warnings to stay away from the railway. As a result of their work, every secondary school in mainland Britain – some 4,750 in all – will be receiving a copy of the film during National Railway Crime Week, complete with teacher guidance notes and details of other educational materials produced by the rail industry that specifically target school age children. - more - Trackoff - 3 In addition to the film launch, a range of activities will be held in key areas across the network including: ·        A visit to Canton Depot with children from Splott (Cardiff Play Services) in partnership with Arriva Trains In recent years, these co-ordinated industry initiatives tackling railway crime have led to a reduction in the problem.  The latest figures released earlier this month (June 9) by the Rail Safety and Standards Board show that there was 29% reduction in all types of reportable train accidents caused by vandalism. This is a reduction for the third successive year of this type of railway crime, which includes missiles striking trains, arson on board trains and running into obstructions placed on the track. Nancy Garcia, Network Rail’s Route Crime Manager, says: “We must make young people sit up and take notice of the dangers and foolishness of using the railway as a playground.  The consequences can be harsh, from being frog-marched home by the police to face angry parents, to hefty fines, imprisonment and possibly even serious injury and death. “As an industry we will continue to address crime on the network but cannot do it alone. This is not a railway problem but one shared with the wider community, for the crimes we see on the railway are often just the same as those being experienced on the other side of the boundary fence, although the consequences can be so much more tragic. “The school summer break is peak crime-time for the railways and we ask all schools and parents to use this National Railway Crime Week to hammer home the message to their young people – keep off the tracks and stay alive.” - more - Trackoff – 4 In addition, the industry undertakes many other activities to educate and warn youngsters of the railway safety message including: schools visits by railway workers and the British Transport Police to take classes and assemblies, ‘I Dare You’ live theatre production that tours schools, Crucial Crews where schools send pupils to a centre where emergency services and railway staff talk about road and rail safety, educational material supplied to schools and  a specially developed education website www.trackoff.org, providing a valuable resource for teachers and schools.

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