Rail passengers reminded to look out for their friends’ safety this Christmas

Festive party-goers are being urged to take extra care of their friends and colleagues – as new figures reveal that within the Christmas and New Year period, the number of violent offences recorded at railway stations fuelled by alcohol have more than doubled in the last two years¹.

In light of these shocking figures, Network Rail has partnered with the British Transport Police (BTP) and with the support of alcohol education charity Drinkaware, to urge Christmas party goers to take extra care of themselves and their friends when travelling on the railway this festive period.

In the last 10 years, 21 people have died in alcohol related incidents on station platforms, or between platforms and trains, with many more being severely injured by slips, trips or falls in train stations2.  Alcohol can significantly affect judgement and Network Rail wants to remind people to stay safe during the festive season.

Allan Spence, head of public and passenger safety at Network Rail, explains: “We want everyone to have fun and enjoy themselves over the festive period, but after a few drinks people often take greater risks, which can frequently, lead to people getting hurt or even killed.

“Travelling home by train is absolutely the safest way. But we have seen drunk people taking a short cut across the tracks, chancing it at level crossings or falling between a train and the platforms. Even escalators see more drink-fuelled accidents. Please take care of yourself and your friends – don’t let that last drink cause bad decisions. Be a ‘First Class Mate’ and look out for those making their way home by train that may have had one too many.”

These latest figures also show an increase in violence fuelled by excess alcohol during December – with one in every four violent offence incidents reported last winter involving intoxication from alcohol3. British Transport Police often see this violence directed at other passengers or station staff, with the consequences involving people being injured and the offenders being arrested.

Becky Warren, Inspector for British Transport Police, said: “We understand that at this time of year, people are out having a good time and having a few drinks but we do see an increase in the number of incidents fuelled by alcohol. The ask is simple – look out for your friends and colleagues getting the train home if they’ve had a few too many. Speak to a member of station staff or British Transport Police if needed”.

In response to the seasonal surge in incidents, Drinkaware will be training Network Rail staff at some of the UK’s busiest stations4 to give them extra skills to recognise and support people who may be intoxicated.

Elaine Hindal, Drinkaware Chief Executive, said: “Christmas is a time when many people find themselves drinking more than they normally would. That’s why it’s vital that we all look after ourselves and each other on a night out and why we are delighted to be working with Network Rail and the British Transport Police on this important campaign.

“Drinkaware’s vulnerability training and Drinkaware Crew scheme are designed to equip employees to provide support to people on nights out and have been successful in helping organisations reduce alcohol related harm across the UK.

“No one is saying that people shouldn’t go out and have fun over Christmas. If you choose to drink, then keep the Chief Medical Advisers’ low risk drinking guidelines of 14 units per week in mind, stay warm, stay safe and look after yourself and your friends.”

To find out more go to www.networkrail.co.uk/firstclassmate