Network Rail and the British Transport Police (BTP) have today launched a new partnership with the English Football League Trust (EFL Trust) and StreetGames to tackle the rising number of people risking their lives on the railway.
New figures reveal more than 250 incidents a week of people messing about on the railway, taking short-cuts and even selfies – sometimes with tragic consequences for their friends and family. Young people make up a third of all cases and the partnership will warn and educate risk takers in Kent, Sussex and south London, with the help of our partners at Govia Thameslink Railway and Southeastern, along with Charlton Athletic F.C. and Millwall F.C.
A new hard-hitting film (attached as an MP4 below) aims to educate people about the hidden dangers, especially the third rail, which carries 750-Volts to power trains – easily enough to kill you. The only way to avoid this hidden danger is to avoid stepping foot on the track in the first place.
During 2018/19, 521 young people (aged 11-18) were involved in trespass incidents in Kent, Sussex and south London, which make up Network Rail's South East Route. When you include adults, that figures rises to 2,562, further highlighting the dangers of stepping on the railway.
Top 10 list of young people trespassing by local authority area – 2018/19
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Top 10 list of all trespassers by local authority area – 2018/19
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Hard-hitting film highlighting dangers of the third rail
Allan Spence, head of public and passenger safety at Network Rail, said: “Children, and adults alike, continue to risk their lives by going onto the track and it has to stop. Every day across the country we see over three dozen incidents and each one could be a potential catastrophe leading to life-changing injuries or even death.
“Sport is a powerful vehicle for communicating with this hard-to-reach audience, so by working in partnership with these sports charities we hope to be able to reach children and teens in those communities most at risk with this incredibly important safety message.”
The ‘You vs. Train' campaign, launched last year by the rail industry and British Transport Police, saw incidents involving children reduce by 12%, but young people are still risking their lives.
Responding to the continued problem, the industry’s railway trespass group has this year launched a new phase of the campaign, forming partnerships with the English Football League Trust and StreetGames, to drive the rail safety message directly to this hard-to-reach group.
At the heart of the issue is a lack of understanding and awareness of the risks. Research undertaken amongst teenagers revealed that one in 10 admitted to walking along the railway line, while 31% didn't even think electrocution or severe burns could even happen.
BTP Assistant Chief Constable Robin Smith added: “The lack of knowledge about the potential dangers seems to be why children choose the tracks as a place to take risks, so our main focus is on providing much-needed education. By working closely with The EFL Trust and StreetGames, it will give us the best possible chance of ensuring that the message resonates where it is most needed.”
The EFL Trust is the official charity of the English Football League and StreetGames is a charity that runs a network of local projects.
Mike Evans, Director of Operations at The EFL Trust, remarked: “Bringing about positive change in the community is at the very core of The EFL Trust’s values. Football can be an enormous force for good and have a profoundly positive impact on communities – so we are looking forward to helping tackle this issue in those areas where children and young people are particularly vulnerable.”
Stuart Felce, StreetGames Head of Community Safety, said: “We were alarmed to hear how many young children unintentionally risk their lives on the railway every year. Our projects involve working closely with disadvantaged children and young people every day and so we are perfectly placed to help deliver this safety message in a way that we hope will resonate.”
As well as reaching children and teens via The EFL Trust and StreetGames, community engagement managers from across Network Rail, BTP and train operators will be out teaching thousands of children about railway safety.
To watch the new video and find out how to keep your children safe on the railway visit: www.YouVsTrain.co.uk.