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Published on : Wednesday, July 27, 2016
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.