Warning to parents as railway trespass doubles over the summer holidays: Summer of Safety anti-Trespass Football image

Wednesday 27 Jul 2016

Warning to parents as railway trespass doubles over the summer holidays

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Alarming new figures from Network Rail reveal that children are twice as likely to trespass on the tracks over the summer months, compared with winter¹.

Longer evenings, coupled with the start of the summer holidays spell danger for Britain’s youth, with almost 600 trespass events reported in August, compared to less than 300 in December. Network Rail and British Transport Police are urging parents to warn their children of the dangers of playing on the tracks this summer.

Over the past 10 years almost 170 young people have lost their lives after trespassing on the railway. The data shows that just under half of those killed are under the age of 25.


Graham Hopkins, Network Rail group safety, technical & engineering director, explains: “We are urging parents to remind their children that if they are on the railway, they are on dangerous ground. It may seem like a good idea to take a shortcut, or like fun to play on the tracks, but this is not only illegal, it is also dangerous.

“Britain has the safest railway in Europe but still too many people lose their lives on the tracks. As the railway gets busier and we electrify more lines to improve services, we must work harder to keep young people safe by making them aware of the dangers that exist. Taking a short cut or messing around on the tracks can result in serious life-changing injuries or death.”

  • 72% of all trespassers who died over the last 10 years were struck by a train
  • Another 17% were electrocuted
  • The others fell from structures or trains.

Most trespassers highlight taking a short cut (42%) as their main motivation for committing the crime, followed by thrill-seeking (19%).

In response to the seasonal surge in incidents, officers from British Transport Police are stepping up patrols across the country. 

Chief Superintendent Paul Brogden from BTP said: “The last thing our officers want to do is knock on someone’s door to tell a parent their child has been killed or seriously injured as a result of trespassing.

“We’re doing all we can to keep youngsters safe by patrolling areas where we know they’re likely to trespass and prevent them from doing so. We’re also putting posters and signs at hotspot locations to deter people from endangering their lives by going on the lines. However, we cover 10,000 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.”

Tom Crosby received a 25,000-volt electric shock while ‘playing’ on the railway when he was just 14 years old. He now works with Network Rail to warn children about the dangers of playing on the tracks.  

“I always just thought playing on the tracks was a bit of fun,” he said. “I never thought it would leave me with nerve damage and visible scars from skin grafts that I'll have for the rest of my life. I was burnt from head to toe and the doctors told my mum that there was only a 25% chance I'd make it through the night.

 “After the incident my life completely changed. I went downhill and last year I reached rock bottom. I decided to contact Network Rail to try and do something positive. They have helped me to tell my story to children and adults across the country to warn people not to trespass on the tracks. If I was to tell my 14-year-old-self something, I'd say the rail tracks aren't a playground, it's somewhere that can kill you and that's something no one's family should have to go through.”

Network Rail is also holding ‘summer of safety’ events right across the country to help teach children about the dangers of the railway this summer, and is also urging parents to make sure their children understand the dangers. 

To find out how to keep your children safe on the railway this summer visit http://www.networkrail.co.uk/safety-education/information-for-parents/

Ends -

Notes to eds:

  • ¹ RSSB data on trespass rates 2015/16
  • If you would like to arrange going out on patrol with officers in trespass areas, please contact British Transport Police Pressdesk on 0300 123 9104.

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 1.6bn journeys by rail every year - double the number of 1996 - and move hundreds of millions of tonnes of freight, saving almost 8m lorry journeys. We’re investing £38bn in the railway by 2019 to deliver more frequent, more reliable, safer services and brighter and better stations.

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About Network Rail

We own, operate and develop Britain's railway infrastructure; that's 20,000 miles of track, 30,000 bridges, tunnels and viaducts and the thousands of signals, level crossings and stations. We run 20 of the UK's largest stations while all the others, over 2,500, are run by the country's train operating companies.

Every day, there are more than 4.8 million journeys made in the UK and over 600 freight trains run on the network. People depend on Britain's railway for their daily commute, to visit friends and loved ones and to get them home safe every day. Our role is to deliver a safe and reliable railway, so we carefully manage and deliver thousands of projects every year that form part of the multi-billion pound Railway Upgrade Plan, to grow and expand the nation's railway network to respond to the tremendous growth and demand the railway has experienced - a doubling of passenger journeys over the past 20 years.

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