Lockdown lift and start of spring sparks youth rail safety warning across South East London and Kent: You vs Train Parallel Lines

Tuesday 16 Mar 2021

Lockdown lift and start of spring sparks youth rail safety warning across South East London and Kent

Region & Route:
Southern: Kent
| Southern

New data has revealed there was a shocking 38% increase in youth trespass incidents in South East London and Kent after the region emerged from the first national lockdown.

  • Shocking stats reveal that the lifting of lockdown in July 2020 prompted a surge in the number of trespass incidents on the railway in the South East
  • Network Rail and British Transport Police urge parents and carers to discuss rail safety with their children before British Summer Time starts
  • New safety film – Parallel Lines- will be broadcast into schools on 18 March by Network Rail’s education partner LearnLive

Network Rail and British Transport Police are urging parents and carers to talk to teenagers about rail safety and the devasting potential impact of trespass to them, their friends and family, and the wider community ahead of the Easter school holiday and the easing of lockdown restrictions.

The calls come as newly released data reveals there was a surge in reckless behaviour on the rail network when the nation emerged from the lockdown last summer, which continued right through to the end of year. Alarmingly the numbers increased most sharply in the under 18s age group, with a 38%  increase in the number of incidents recorded as lockdown lifted in July 2020 compared to the previous month.

Network Rail’s route director for Kent, Fiona Taylor, said: “It’s been such a tough year for everyone, particularly for young people, who’ve spent so much time unable to live their normal lives or see their friends.

“So when lockdown ends and the sun comes out,  I really don’t want to see happen what we experienced last year. Trespassing on the railway is unbelievably dangerous, especially in London and Kent, where we have the electrified third rail and a very busy network.

“We have sadly seen the tragic consequences of young people messing about on the railway. So please, talk to the young people in your lives and remind them of the dangers. I want everyone to enjoy a great and safe summer.”

Superintendent Alison Evans, British Transport Police, added: “We often warn families at this time of year as the evenings get lighter and children prepare to enjoy school holidays. However, this year our concerns are more acute, especially as we are not able to get into schools ourselves to pass this message onto children directly. Trespassing on the railway can have serious, life-changing consequences for the individual, their loved ones and the wider community. Please, make sure you know the rail safety basics and pass that knowledge onto your loved ones. Lead by example and stay off the tracks.”

TV personality and a mother of two, Nadia Sawalha, stated: “As a Mum of two teenage girls, and we are all keen train travellers in my family, I was so shocked to discover the rise in youth trespass incidents since the easing of the first lockdown. I think I naively thought this was something that happened more when we were kids and had somehow magically disappeared.

“Trespassing might seem like harmless daredevil fun to some children, but of course it most definitely is not! That’s why it’s so important for us as parents, to have the conversation explaining the devastating consequences railway trespassing can have. I’ve sat down with my girls to make sure they know that trespassing can not only harm them and their loved ones, but also harm those they wouldn’t even think of, like the rail staff who might be left devastated by any incident, even a near miss. Let’s all have the conversation guys. It could save lives .”

Trespass is a cause of serious concern for Network Rail, which is why the You vs Train campaign was created in partnership with British Transport Police in summer 2018. Primarily concentrating on young people, the number of incidents across the railway had been significantly decreasing year on year since the campaign’s introduction.

To help combat the expected seasonal climb in trespass,  a new You vs Train film – Parallel Lines-  has been launched to get children to not only think about the devasting consequences that their actions can have on them and their loved ones, but the wider, sometimes hidden harm caused to the community, in particular rail staff.

The new film will be streamed into schools on 18 March as part of a rail safety broadcast by Network Rail’s education partner - LearnLive. Further information, including how to sign up for the broadcast, can be found on the LearnLive website

Information on the dangers of railway trespass and the new campaign film can be found on the You vs Train website.

Notes to Editors

  1. Stats provided by British Transport Police’s National Disruption Fusion Unit
  2. Total number of trespass incidents for 2019 and 2020, broken down by month are given below






























































Surge of 38% back to near previous year levels and an increase of a third over the previous year in August.

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Scott Wilson
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