Local MP John Penrose today supported Network Rail’s summer safety initiative to raise awareness about the dangers of trespassing on the railway at one of Weston-Super-Mare’s hotspot areas – Windwhistle/Coronation foot crossing.
John Penrose, MP for Weston-Super-Mare, said: “I’m backing Network Rail’s efforts to prevent serious accidents on the railway. We must do all we what can to prevent children straying onto the tracks or using the railway as a playground. It’s easy for children to forget that railway lines are very dangerous places to play.
“I fully support the proposed crackdown on vandalism and damage. I was horrified to hear that in the last year in Weston-Super-Mare area alone there have been 14 reports of objects placed on the line, ten incidents of stone throwing and two line side fires. This irresponsible behaviour could cause a serious train derailment and risks hundred of lives. I hope the public will offer support by reporting incidents to the British Transport Police or Network Rail.”
Over the past 12 months, there have been 118 reported incidents of railway crime in the Weston-Super-Mare area, ranging from trespass and vandalism to placing objects on the track and throwing stones at trains – all of which could have serious consequences. Hotspot areas include: Weston-Super-Mare Station area, Uphill and Worle, Highbridge & Burnham and Nailsea Station areas (see Notes to Editors).
Andy Hancock, Network Rail’s General Manager for the West Country, said: ““Over a third of these incidents in the past year have involved young people. With long days and light evenings, it’s easy to understand why children want to play outside – but it’s hard to understand why some risk their lives playing on dangerous railway tracks.
“We implore parents and guardians to make sure their children understand the dangers of playing on the tracks. We don’t want any child to die as a result of playing on the railway this summer.”
Based on the premise that many young people are tempted to play on tracks because they are bored and have nothing else to do with their time, Network Rail has developed a ‘No Messin’!’ campaign to encourage a diversion from unsafe activities, rather than trying to change behaviour through shock tactics.
Andy Hancock, adds: “As the infrastructure owner, we have a responsibility to spread the message that the railway can be a dangerous place. You wouldn’t try to use a motorway as a short cut or a place to hang out – so why the railway? Our message is clear: No Messin’!”.