Overhead electric wires warning after kite flyers risk their lives: Kite compromising OLE

Monday 17 Aug 2020

Overhead electric wires warning after kite flyers risk their lives

Region & Route:
Wales & Western: Wales & Borders

Network Rail has issued a warning about the dangers of overhead electric wires after kite flyers in Buckinghamshire risked their lives and caused delays for passengers because they were flying too close to the railway.

The kite flyers risked serious injury or worse on 31 July when their kite became tangled in the Overhead Line Equipment (OLE), which is used to power trains in electric, near Burnham.

The incident also delayed trains for passengers for up to 43 minutes and cost taxpayers over £5,000 to resolve the issue.

Although no one was harmed, it highlights the dangers as 25,000V of electricity continuously runs through the overhead wires and the electricity is never turned off.

Children and parents alike are reminded to be aware of the overhead network as kites, drones and model aircraft can get caught and become a dangerous hazard.

Whilst there is no danger to people using the railway correctly, anyone who does not respect the railway boundary – the fence line that protects both people and the operational railway from deliberate or accidental trespass – is placing themselves at risk.  

Kimberley Carter, Community Safety Manager, at Network Rail commented:

“Electricity is never turned off on the railway, whether trains are running or not. Playing with objects so close to electrified tracks and overhead power lines is extremely dangerous. Please ensure you play well away from the railway tracks and lines. 

“Danger is all around, some are hidden, you cannot see them. Trespass incidents are at an all-time high. Please stay off the tracks and play in safe areas with your families and friends.”

So, what should the public always keep in mind?

  • Please do not release your kite or helium balloon when playing in a park or recreation area
  • Please do not carry kites or balloons onto the stations or across railway bridges
  • The heat generated by an electric shock from high voltage wires is in excess of 3000 degrees Celsius – hot enough to ignite a victim’s clothing
  • Electrified overhead line equipment carries 25,000 volts of electricity – that’s 100 times the power supplied to your home
  • It is a criminal offence to trespass on the railway – punishable by a £1,000 fine

Contact information

Passengers / community members
Network Rail national helpline
03457 11 41 41

Latest travel advice
Please visit National Rail Enquiries

Callum Jones

About Network Rail

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