Network Rail Wales and Borders has teamed up with the world’s most famous blue engine and nursery school favourite, Thomas the Tank Engine™, to help children learn about using the railway safely.
The Stay Safe with Thomas story book sees the mischievous Thomas putting himself and his friends in danger on the railway, instead of being safe. The new story sees Thomas learning valuable safety lessons about ignoring red lights at level crossings, leaving gates open and letting animals on the tracks and standing too close to the platform edge.
Network Rail Wales and Borders, along with the British Transport Police (BTP), hope the story book will encourage parents and teachers to discuss rail safety with children.
Bill Kelly, interim route managing director for Network RailWales and Borders, said: “The railway is full of both obvious and hidden dangers and it’s important we make sure even very young people are aware of the dangers that exist on and near the tracks.
“The new book offers parents and teachers an engaging and fun way to educate young children about safety on the railway. We hope they will grow up knowing how to keep themselves and their friends safe.”
Pupils from Derwendeg Primary in Hengoed were the first in Wales to receive the book. Headteacher, Stewart Davies, said: “Our school is close to the railway, so it is vital that children are aware of how to stay safe near the tracks.
“It was great to welcome Network Rail’s community safety manager, Emily, to the school to read ‘Stay Safe with Thomas’ to the younger children which is a fun way to get young children talking about rail safety. Emily also spent time explaining rail safety to the older year six pupils, which is incredibly important as these children begin to gain some independence.”
The launch of the story book follows the ‘You vs Train’¹ campaign, launched by the rail industry and the British Transport Police, which targeted older children and teenagers to warn them of the dangers of the railway.
The number of young people taking risks on the railway track has doubled in Wales and Borders since 2014. Across the UK, in the last 12 months alone, seven young people under the age of 18 lost their lives and a further 48 people have received life changing injuries.
Inspector Mike Edwards from British Transport Police (BTP) in Wales, said: “We are delighted to be collaborating on this initiative, our focus is keeping people safe and working with such a well-known children’s television character is exciting.
“This Thomas the Tank engine story book gives us an engaging and accessible way to ensure essential safety messaging is reaching young children. Although BTP runs activity through the year to educate the public of the seen and unseen dangers in and around the railway tracks, we hope that being able discuss this subject through the use of these books will make our safety messages go further.”