Thursday 13 Apr 2017
Shocking footage: Number of people risking their lives trespassing in Cambridge hits five-year-high
Across Britain, one person trespasses on the railway every hour, putting their lives in danger.
Alarming new figures from Network Rail and British Transport Police reveal more people than ever are risking their lives on the rail network by trespassing on the tracks in Cambridge[i].
The data, which looks at trends over the last five years, shows trespass incidents are at all-time high in the region, while nationally one person trespasses and dices with death every hour.
Last year alone there were around 120 incidents where people risked their lives on the rail network in Cambridge - a 41 per cent rise on the previous year.
Research also shows young people are more likely to take a risk on the tracks, with seasonal peaks in incidents coinciding with the spring and summer school holidays.
Richard Tew, Network Rail’s head of safety for Anglia, explains: “Every April we see a huge rise in the number of people taking a risk on the rail network and it’s worrying that these numbers seem to be going up. Britain has the safest railway in Europe but still too many people lose their lives on the tracks. The dangers may not always be obvious but the electricity on the railway is always on and trains can travel up to 100 miles per hour, so even if they see you, they can’t stop in time.
“As the railway gets busier we must work harder to keep young people safe by making them aware of the dangers. It may seem harmless to take a shortcut, or fun to play on the tracks, but this is not only illegal, it is also very dangerous. Taking a short cut or messing around on the tracks can result in serious life-changing injuries or death.”
In response to the seasonal surge in incidents and to tackle the problem of youth trespass, Network Rail and BTP have jointly launched a schools engagement programme, which aims to teach children in trespass hotspots about railway safety. Additionally, the ‘Tackling Track Safety’ programme will be rolled-out to more than 100 schools across Britain, using sport to educate children about the dangers across the network.
In 2016, more than 61 children were caught trespassing by police in the region, with boys aged 14 to 16 being stopped the most[ii].
Inspector Steve Webster from BTP in East Anglia said: “We believe the number of children we encounter trespassing every year is sadly, just the tip of the iceberg.
“Every single day we are called to the tracks because a train driver has had to sound their horn or apply their emergency brake In a desperate bid to avoid youths on the line, who then run off, seemingly unaware of the danger they have put themselves in.
“We continue to do all we can to keep youngsters safe by patrolling areas where we know they’re likely to trespass and prevent them from doing so.
“However, we cover thousands of miles of track and we cannot tackle this issue alone. That is why we are urging parents and young people to heed this warning and take a reality check when it comes to trespass. It’s not a game: they are real tracks, with real trains and real-life consequences.”
Jay Thompson, head of safety, security and sustainability at Greater Anglia, said: “Our aim is to operate a safe and punctual railway. We fully support this campaign and the work of the British Transport Police and Network Rail to educate young people who are risking their lives by trespassing on the railway. We investigate incidents of trespass and report these to the British Transport Police.
“If anyone witnesses someone trespassing on the tracks, we encourage them to report it immediately to prevent a fatal accident.”
New figures also highlight that youth trespass is more prevalent in areas where there is higher socio-economic deprivation. To help tackle this Network Rail has also joined forces with children’s charity Barnardo’s to deliver safety education in specific areas of need and where trespass rates are high. The organisation will be raising money for the charity and encouraging their staff to volunteer and help deliver these safety events.
To find out how to keep your children safe on the railway this summer visit: www.networkrail.co.uk/trespass
About Network Rail
Network Rail owns, manages and develops Britain's railway - the 20,000 miles of track, 40,000 bridges and viaducts and the thousands of signals, level crossings and stations (the largest of which we also run). In partnership with train operators we help people take more than 1.65bn journeys by rail every year and move hundreds of millions of tonnes of freight, saving almost 8m lorry journeys. We employ 38,000 people across Britain and work round-the-clock, each and every day, to provide a safe, reliable railway.
About the Railway Upgrade Plan
The Railway Upgrade Plan is Network Rail's investment plan for Britain's railways. It makes up two-thirds of Network Rail's £40bn spending priorities for the five years to 2019 and represents the biggest sustained programme of rail modernisation since the Victoria era. It is designed to provide more capacity, relieve crowding and respond to the tremendous growth Britain's railways continue to experience; passenger numbers have doubled in the past 20 years and are set to double again over the next 25 years - so we need to continue to invest in building a bigger, better railway. For passengers, that means:
- longer, faster more frequent trains;
- better, more reliable infrastructure; and
- better facilities for passengers, especially at stations.