Friday 20 Jul 2018
Life-saving campaign launched as the number of teenagers accessing the railway in the west reaches a four year high
Alarming new figures show that the number of young people taking risks on the railway tracks between Paddington and Penzance has more than doubled over the last four years, with over 200 reported incidents involving young people having been reported in the region since 2017.
In the past year, seven young people under the age of 18 have lost their lives on the British rail network, with a further 48 people suffering life-changing injuries.
The lack of knowledge about potential dangers is believed to be why children choose the tracks as a good place to play, with only a third (35%) believing that the railway is extremely dangerous.
Of those surveyed in the west: -
- 22% indicated that they would consider going beyond the safety line to retrieve a dropped item such as a bag or phone
- 15% admitted to having accessed the track as part of a dare
- 10% of those who trespassed on the tracks did so to take a selfie or photograph of a friend
- 40% who trespassed on railway land did so as part of a group
The new data highlights some worrying seasonal peaks in the number of incidents, with the summer holidays seeing more than double the number of young risk takers, compared to the winter months.
As a result, the rail industry and the British Transport Police have joined together to launch a new campaign, called You Vs Train, to raise awareness of the dangers that young people face when they take on the railway. Following a research effort to help ensure maximum impact with teenage audiences, You Vs Train will help young people understand the serious and devastating consequences for them and their loved ones when they make a potentially life-changing decision to ignore warnings and go onto the railway, with its obvious hidden dangers.
At the heart of the You Vs Train campaign is the story of Tom Hubbard – a young boy who suffered life-changing injuries in 2014 when he was electrocuted by overhead power cables. Tom suffered third degree burns across 57% of his body and he has been left to deal with the serious physical and psychological consequences ever since.
Superintendent Mark Cleland, British Transport Police’s sub-divisional commander for the western area said: “We hope that by sharing Tom’s story, young people who might have previously considered trespassing on the railways will think twice.
“We want this story to be heard – the tracks are not a playground. They’re incredibly dangerous and, as Tom’s story shows, can easily result in serious injury or worse.
“We hope the campaign will help young people to understand the risks, and assist them to make the right decision and stay away from the railway lines. Equally, it will also help them understand that bad decisions don’t just affect them, but they will have a deep and lasting impact on their families and friends as well. This campaign is not just for our young people but also their friends and family”.
Paul Clark, head of route safety, health and environment for Network Rail’s western route, said: “We are sharing Tom’s story to highlight the hidden danger of playing on the railways. We want young people to realise how dangerous the railway can be, but we also hope that their friends and family will have open conversations on this, especially those living near the tracks”.
The rail industry is also working together to roll out a new schools’ engagement programme, where community engagement managers from across Network Rail, British Transport Police (BTP) and train operators will be out teaching thousands of children about railway safety. BTP officers will also be stepping-up patrols across the country and have new powers to tackle trespass in hot-spot areas.
To watch Tom’s video and find out how to keep your children safe on the railway this summer visit: www.YouVsTrain.co.uk
About Network Rail
We own, operate and develop Britain's railway infrastructure; that's 20,000 miles of track, 30,000 bridges, tunnels and viaducts and the thousands of signals, level crossings and stations. We run 20 of the UK's largest stations while all the others, over 2,500, are run by the country's train operating companies.
Every day, there are more than 4.8 million journeys made in the UK and over 600 freight trains run on the network. People depend on Britain's railway for their daily commute, to visit friends and loved ones and to get them home safe every day. Our role is to deliver a safe and reliable railway, so we carefully manage and deliver thousands of projects every year that form part of the multi-billion pound Railway Upgrade Plan, to grow and expand the nation's railway network to respond to the tremendous growth and demand the railway has experienced - a doubling of passenger journeys over the past 20 years.