Network Rail warns people in York of the dangers of trespassing after a third of British adults admit they would step onto the track to retrieve their mobile phone: Shattered Lives Trespass campaign

Monday 2 Aug 2021

Network Rail warns people in York of the dangers of trespassing after a third of British adults admit they would step onto the track to retrieve their mobile phone

Region & Route:
| Eastern: East Coast
  • Over one third of adults would retrieve their phone, 33% would get their purse or wallet and 31% would step onto the track for their keys1
  • Yet 98% of adults understand that stepping onto the tracks carries risk of serious injury or death
  • 975 trespass incidents were reported on or around the East Coast Main Line between April 2020 and March 20213

Shocking new survey1 results have revealed that a third of British adults are prepared to risk their life to retrieve an everyday item, such as a mobile phone, purse, or their keys from the track.

Network Rail is hammering home the dangers of trespassing after there were 975 reported incidents on or around the East Coast Main Line - which connects London King’s Cross and Scotland, via York - between April 2020 and March 2021.

Trespassing on the railway can lead to life changing injuries or even fatal consequences. As well as trains not being able to stop quickly or swerve out of the way, there are also hidden dangers such as a lethal current running through overhead lines.

Network Rail and British Transport Police have launched a new campaign - ‘Shattered Lives’ – to warn people about the life-changing dangers on, and around the railway where making the wrong choice could so easily lead to devastating consequences for them, their friends and family.

Louise Cox, Head of Safety for Network Rail’s East Coast route, said: “It’s absolutely shocking that so many people admit they are willing to risk their life for their phone, keys or wallet. It’s never safe to trespass on the railway and the consequences could be life changing or even fatal.

“We want everyone to understand that stepping on the track shatters lives of loved ones and the wider community. Please don’t leave people around you to pick up the pieces.”

Every year sees thousands of trespass incidents across the rail network. Though often seen as a youth problem, the vast majority of trespassers – 75% – are adults. Their reasons for straying onto the network include taking shortcuts and retrieving dropped items from the track.  In the last three years, more than 150 adults2 have either been seriously injured or lost their lives as a result of trespassing on Britain’s rail network.

Superintendent Alison Evans, British Transport Police, said: “Unfortunately, every summer we see a rise in trespass incidents. This summer, please remember that stepping onto the railway at any time is dangerous and illegal. Accessing the tracks as a shortcut or to retrieve a personal possession you’ve dropped will have consequences that stay with you and those around you for life. Don’t let a moment of impatience ruin everything – it’s just not worth it.”

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


Notes to Editors

  1. Network Rail survey of 2,000 adults (18+) in Great Britain on attitudes to trespass, conducted by Yonder Consulting
  2. Source – RSSB
  3. From 1 April 2020 – 31 March 2021 there were 16,431 trespass incidents reported on Britain’s rail network (source - National Disruption Fusion Unit)
  4. Data reveals there was a surge in reckless behaviour on the rail network when the nation emerged from the lockdown last summer. The total number of incidents in August and September 2020 increased by 12% and 17% respectively compared to the same months in 2019

Contact information

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Kathryn Muffett
Media Relations Manager
Network Rail
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