Rail safety warning issued as 2020 revealed to be worse summer in five years for trespass: Photo credit Jon Irwin

Monday 19 Oct 2020

Rail safety warning issued as 2020 revealed to be worse summer in five years for trespass

Region & Route:
  • As lockdown eased earlier this year, trespass incidents on the railway increased 
  • More than 5,000 trespass incidents recorded between June and September 2020 
  • September 2020 was the worst September in five years, seeing a 17% increase on same time last year 

Newly released figures from Network Rail and British Transport Police show that there were 5,100 trespass incidents over the summer months, with the total number of incidents recorded in September 2020 – 1239 - the worst recorded for that month in the past five years.

Trespass is a cause of serious concern for Network Rail, which is why the You vs Train campaign was created in partnership with British Transport Police in summer 2018. Primarily concentrating on the problem of youth trespass, the number of incidents across the rail network involving young people aged 18 or under at key target locations has been decreasing year on year.

However, the overall national figures are bucking this trend and, for the first time in three years, the total number of incidents in August and September 2020, have actually increased – by 12% and 17% respectively - as compared to the same months in 2019.

As well as releasing the figures, Network Rail has issued a number of images caught on CCTV during the summer months, which show the variety of trespass incidents that have taken place across Great Britain. These seem to show adults using the railway as a backdrop for photographs.

Commenting on the new figures, Allan Spence of Network Rail said: “These numbers show just how much work still needs to be done to educate people about rail safety. Our You vs Train campaign has been really successful getting the message to young people but adults still aren’t taking heed. Wedding photos or selfies on the track are just plain stupidity.

“We often warn families at this time of year as kids enjoy school half term holidays. But this time we are appealing to adults in particular. Please, make sure you know the rail safety basics and pass that knowledge onto your loved ones. Lead by example and stay off the tracks. No ifs, no buts - no tears.”

Superintendent Alison Evans, British Transport Police added “The railway is not an appropriate or safe setting for a photographic backdrop, no matter how scenic the setting. Every time someone strays onto the rail network they are not only putting themselves at risk of serious, life-threatening injury, but also delaying essential journeys. Passenger and freight trains are still using the railway 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, providing much needed services of transporting people and goods. Please, stay off the track”.

HM Chief Inspector of Railways, Ian Prosser CBE said: “We keep seeing people take unnecessary risks around the railway and this behaviour could result in fatal or life-changing consequences.

“These new statistics showing the increase is truly worrying. The hidden dangers on the railway are real: each year hundreds take on the railway and lose and their actions have far-reaching and devastating consequences for their friends and family.

“We will continue to work with Network Rail and BTP to educate the general public about rail safety but also discourage any risky behaviour around the railway.”

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:

  • The past year has seen a 30% decline in the number of recorded trespass incidents involving young people at 51 high priority locations across the rail network.
  • Each year, hundreds of people take risks on and around the railway, resulting in tragic consequences and life-changing injuries.

Contact information

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Network Rail press office - Donna Mitchell
Senior Media Relations Manager
Network Rail
020 3356 8700

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