Wednesday 21 Dec 2016
PHOTO: Newport school students urged to stay safe around the railway at Christmas
Network Rail and The Yvonne Arnaud Theatre visited Joyce Frankland Academy in Newport, Essex on Tuesday, 13 December, to perform their hard-hitting ‘Off the Level’ production and teach students about railway safety.
The actors were joined by Tina Hughes, Network Rail’s level crossing user champion, who spoke to the pupils about the devastating impact of losing her daughter Olivia, who attended Joyce Frankland, when she and her friend Charlie were killed at Elsenham level crossing in December 2005.
Network Rail’s level crossing user champion, Tina Hughes, said: “Visiting the Joyce Frankland Academy was difficult for me especially seeing all the young students in the same uniform that Olivia wore. I can only hope that the powerful production and what I said afterwards about my personal experience will encourage them to take extra care near the railway so that their families will never have to go through such a traumatic experience.”
The play features three young friends, one of whom is hit by a train at a level crossing, and highlights the impact that this has on them, his mother, their teacher, the train driver, and a British Transport Police officer, all told through monologues, some of which are the genuine words of those affected by real events.
Kat O’Malley Network Rail’s community safety manager for Anglia said: “While it is important to stay safe near the railway all year round, Christmas is a time when people go on holiday or visit relatives, sometimes in unfamiliar places. The play is a hard-hitting reminder to students to stay safe when around the railway or at level crossings, and to be aware of their surroundings.”
Joyce Frankland Academy Principal, Gordon Farquhar said: “We always take railway safety extremely seriously at the Academy. Staff and students learnt a sombre and lasting lesson from the tragic and heartbreaking events of December 2005. We always welcome Tina Hughes to the Academy with open arms and are pleased to work with her, Network Rail and other organisations on promoting safety at level crossings to the students."
Rob Cann, education officer, Guildford’s Yvonne Arnaud Theatre, said: “We visited the Joyce Frankland Academy and performed the show to children aged 11 – 15 over two days. The impact of the performance was clear from the complete silence that followed from the audience. The aim was to make it clear how important it is to be aware of the potential dangers around level crossings and remind anyone who uses them to pay attention and take care.”
Network Rail is investing £100m to close or make crossings safer as part of its Railway Upgrade Plan.
Notes to Editors
- Off The Level addresses vital issues and is designed to save lives.
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.