More than 1,000 young people taught railway safety through innovative new VR technology: Students using VR headsets, Network Rail (1)-2

Friday 3 May 2024

More than 1,000 young people taught railway safety through innovative new VR technology

Region & Route:
| Eastern: East Coast

On Thursday 2 May, Network Rail hosted five railway safety sessions at a Doncaster school using virtual reality (VR) headsets to educate young students on the dangers of trespassing on the railway.

The interactive sessions were organised by colleagues from Network Rail’s Community Safety team and the British Transport Police at Trinity Academy in Thorne, Doncaster for 100 students aged 13 and 14, teaching them how to be safe around the railway and the potential dangers of trespassing.

Latest figures show that more than 1,900 incidents including trespass, level crossing misuse, and railway crime were recorded across Network Rail’s East Coast route in the last financial year – close to 400 of those (20.5%) involved people aged under 21.

Network Rail has invested in a set of innovative VR headsets that show two hard-hitting scenarios involving young people, designed to give a first-person, 360-degree view of the dangers and potential consequences that can happen if a person trespasses on the railway.

These include a group of teenagers leading up to one of them being distracted by their phone and being struck by an oncoming train, and then from the perspective of being in the train cab with a driver as they approach the trespassers on the track.

The sessions at Trinity Academy mean that more than 1,000 young people* have now used the VR headsets across Network Rail’s East Coast route, resulting in an increased understanding of railway safety and the risks the railway poses.

Network Rail colleagues also delivered a presentation on trespass and vandalism, electrical safety, and the British Transport Police were on hand with some of their equipment, including a drone which can be used 24 hours a day to search for trespassers across wide areas.

The sessions were delivered as part of a wider crime and safety awareness day run by the charity Prison Me, No Way. Students took part in other talks looking at prison life, choices and consequences, the effects one punch can have, county lines, and electrical safety with Northern Power Grid.

The VR headsets and wider safety sessions are planned to be rolled out further to schools and universities across the East Coast route, to make sure even more young people are better informed on how to stay safe on and around the railway.

Robert Merry, Network Rail's Community Safety Manager for East Coast Route said: “These interactive sessions are designed to teach an important lesson to young people around safety on the railway and the dangers of trespassing.

“The use of virtual reality is a new and different way to show young people the real-life dangers and potential consequences of trespassing.

“The 1,000th young person to use the VR headsets marks an important milestone in Network Rail’s campaign to expand the knowledge of railway safety in young people and we can’t wait to take them to more children and young people.”

Elizabeth Muthiah, Teacher of MFL and PSHE Co-ordinator at Trinity Academy said: “The rail safety session was a hard hitting and informative workshop that really hit home the dangers that the railway can pose, which is a vital message for young people to hear.

“Our students gained a really good understanding about the appropriate conduct around the railway and how to stay safe. The students were especially enthusiastic about using the VR headsets and thoroughly enjoyed the immersive experience that they provided!”

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