New safety warning as a third of British adults say they would risk all by stepping onto the railway track to retrieve their mobile phone: You vs Train - Shattered Lives campaign

Monday 12 Jul 2021

New safety warning as a third of British adults say they would risk all by stepping onto the railway track to retrieve their mobile phone

Region & Route:
  • Purse / wallet (33%) and keys (31%) were among the other personal items adults would retrieve from the track
  • Yet 98% of adults understand that stepping onto the tracks carries risk of serious injury or death
  • Seven-time Paralympian Simon Munn, MBE, joins Network Rail and British Transport Police to launch new safety film – Shattered Lives – highlighting the devastating consequences of adult trespass

Shocking new survey1 results have revealed that a third of British adults are prepared to risk life and limb to retrieve an everyday object (mobile phone / purse or wallet 33%, keys 31%) from the track despite being fully aware of the dangers.

Network Rail and British Transport Police have launched a new campaign - ‘Shattered Lives’ - warning 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.

Rupert Lown, chief health and safety officer at Network Rail, said: “It is shocking that so many people are willing to risk life and limb to retrieve an everyday object from the track or make a shortcut, either of which could so easily result in shattering the lives of their loved ones forever. There are more dangers around the railway than people often realise – not just trains but the electricity in overhead lines and the third rail, which is never turned off …

“You cannot put a price on personal safety. Every time someone strays onto the tracks they are placing themselves at risk of serious, life-changing injury or worse. And the effects of the actions can be devastating, not only for them, but their loved ones and the wider community. We want everyone to know and understand that stepping on the track shatters lives. Please don’t take risks. Don’t leave the 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.”

Seven-time Paralympian, Simon Munn, MBE, has teamed up with Network Rail and British Transport Police to help launch a new anti-trespass film – Shattered Lives – aimed at adults. Part of Network Rail and British Transport Police’s You vs Train campaign, the film depicts the shattering consequences that trespassing can have on families.

Simon lost his leg in a railway accident after attempting to take a shortcut home by trespassing across the railway. While he has been able to rebuild his life as a successful athlete – representing Great Britain in wheelchair basketball – Simon counts himself very lucky to be alive following the events that night more than thirty years ago.     

Simon Munn comments: “If you’re thinking about taking a shortcut home by trespassing across the tracks like I did, then there’s only one winner. You can’t mess about with a 400-tonne machine and think that you can get away with it. I was very lucky that I only came away with losing my leg. I’m incredibly proud of my career as a Paralympian, but that night 31 years-ago was a massive reality check. The outcome of my actions irreversibly changed my life and I regret the pain that I put my family and the driver of the train through.”

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

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

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Charlie Oven
Media relations manager, campaigns
Network Rail

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