The rail industry is launching a major new campaign to reduce trespass, with new figures released by Network Rail revealing that more than a quarter of teenagers behave in ways that could endanger their life on the railway.
NR claims that the number of young people taking risks on the railway has risen by almost 80% in the past five years, with seven under-18s killed and a further 48 receiving life-changing injuries in the past 12 months.
On the West Coast Main Line between London and Carlisle alone, NR says there have been 1,957 incidents of young people risking their lives on tracks since 2014.
In further findings from NR’s research:
- One in ten teenagers admitted to walking along live railway lines, with 42% doing so in the last year.
- Just under a third of under-18s surveyed say they don’t believe there are risks of severe burns as a result of electrocution by overhead catenary.
- 15% think it is safe to walk on railway tracks if you check a timetable to make sure there are no trains coming.
- Almost a fifth believe that it is ‘relatively safe’ to retrieve an item dropped on the tracks as long as you leave again straightaway.
The findings were released just as schools in England broke up for the summer holidays, which traditionally leads to a doubling of trespass incidents compared with winter months.
NR Head of Public and Passenger Safety Alan Spence said: “Hundreds of people each year unintentionally take on the railway and lose. This year we have already seen a record number of young people losing their life or being injured on the track.
“The railway is full of both obvious and hidden dangers. The electricity on the railway is always on and always dangerous. Trains can also travel up to 125mph, so even if a driver can see your child, they can’t stop in time and they can’t change direction. Parents - please help us keep your children safe by educating them about what they take on when they step on the track.”
The following short film enacting the story of Tom Hubbard, who was electrocuted and severely burned by overhead power cables, is being released on social media and will be shown in cinemas throughout the summer.
- To read the FULL story, read RAIL 858, published on August 1, and available digitally on Android/iPad from July 28.