Alarming new figures reveal a four year high in the number of young people risking their lives on the region’s railways.
National figures also show that more than a quarter of teenagers (27%) confess to behaving in a way that could endanger their life on the railway. One in 10 teenagers admitted to walking along the railway line – more than two fifths of those (42%) in the last year.
The number of young people taking risks on the railway track has gone up by almost 80 per cent in the last five years. In the last 12 months alone, seven young people under the age of 18 have lost their lives and a further 48 people have received life changing injuries.
As a result the rail industry and the British Transport Police have launched a new campaign – called ‘You Vs Train’, which targets teenagers to make them face the serious and devastating consequences for them and their loved ones when they make the potentially life-changing decision to ignore warnings and go onto the railway, with its obvious and hidden dangers.
The lack of knowledge about the potential dangers seems to be why children choose the tracks as a good place to take risks, with only a third (37%) believing that the railway is extremely dangerous.
• Just under a third don’t believe that severe burns as a result of electrocution or electrocution by the overhead wires are risks you might face
• 15% think that it’s safe to walk on the railway track if you check a timetable to make sure there are no trains coming
• Almost a fifth think that getting a dropped/lost item (e.g. phone or football) from the railway track is relatively safe as long as you leave again straight away
The new data also highlights some worrying seasonal peaks in the number of incidents, with the summer holidays seeing more than double the number of young risk takers, compared to the winter months.
Allan Spence, head of public and passenger safety at Network Rail, explains:
“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 125 miles per hour, 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.”
BTP Chief Superintendent Eddie Wylie said:
“The tracks are not a playground. They’re incredibly dangerous and can easily result in serious injury or worse.
“We hope the campaign will help young people to understand the risks, and help them to make the right decision and stay away from railway lines. Equally, it will also help them understand that bad decisions don’t just affect them, but they will have a deep and lasting impact on their families and friends as well. This campaign is not just for our young people but also their friends and family.”
The rail industry is also working together to roll out a new schools engagement programme, where community engagement managers from across Network Rail, British Transport Police (BTP) and Train Operating Companies will be out teaching thousands of children about railway safety.
BTP officers will also be stepping-up patrols across the country.
To find out how to keep your children safe on the railway this summer visit here.