Published on : Thursday, May 26, 2016
Fans of the famous Flying Scotsman steam locomotive are being urged to keep off the tracks and enjoy a safe day out when the recently renovated engine begins tours of the south east from London next week.
As well as the danger from passing trains, the railway in the south east is largely electrified using a ground-level conductor rail, which is always switched on and can kill anyone who touches it.
Flying Scotsman returned to the East Coast Main Line after a 10-year, £4.2million refurbishment by the National Railway Museum in February with an inaugural journey from London King’s Cross to York which was greeted by thousands of people lining the route. However, the day was marred in parts by several dangerous incidents of trespass – where members of the public were seen walking along the tracks and taking photographs of the locomotive while other trains continued to pass on opposing lines.Flying Scotsman tours the UK throughout the summer, with tours from London Victoria through Surrey and Sussex on Wednesday, 25 May, and Wednesday, 1 June.
Phil Hufton, Network Rail Managing Director, England and Wales said: “While the turnout to see Flying Scotsman so far has shown the passion and support for steam engines, and indeed the railway itself, the images of people stood on the railway taking photographs were deeply concerning and a breach of our safe operations.
“I cannot stress enough how dangerous it is to go onto the railway without any formal training and without permission, as well as being illegal. The risks are high enough on any railway, but on third rail networks there is the added risk of death through electrocution.
“I am urging those who plan to enjoy seeing Flying Scotsman in the coming days to do so from a safe position and do not go onto the railway under any circumstances. I’d like to thank those who have observed safe practices during the Scotsman’s runs so far and ask others to follow that example.”
The conductor rail, often called the “third rail”, is electrified at 750 Volts, which compares to the domestic power supply of 230 Volts.Chief Inspector David Oram from the British Transport Police said: “We understand people are excited about seeing the Flying Scotsman’s return and want them to have a great day out.
“Our priority is the safety of the public and passengers viewing and travelling on the train. The railway is a hazardous environment and we would urge people to use safe vantage points to view and take pictures of the train, stay clear of the line and not be tempted to risk their lives and the lives of others by trespassing on the tracks.
“To ensure the safety of those wanting to see the Flying Scotsman we have been in extensive planning discussions with the rail industry. Our aim is that members of the public are able to enjoy these great events by understanding the dangers, being responsible, staying within the law and most importantly – keeping safe.
“Trespassing on the tracks to view the service is not only extremely dangerous and can result in the train’s journey being delayed, but it is an offence for which the offender risks being brought before the courts, a fine of £1,000 and a criminal record. Where people are found to be trespassing, we will take proportionate and necessary action against them.”