Teaching young people how to stay safe on the railway has been given a boost with a partnership between Network Rail and Southend United Community & Educational Trust (CET), the official charity of Southend United Football Club, to kick out trespassing on the tracks.

Earlier this year, Network Rail announced it was working with the British Transport Police (BTP) and the English Football League Trust (EFL Trust) to help address the growing number of people risking their lives on the railway across Essex.

The latest figures show there were over 80 trespass incidents at Pitsea station in 2018/19 which delayed trains by almost 3 hours. There were also a further 53 incidents of people going onto the track at Pitsea Hall level crossing,

Since April 2019, there has been 34 trespass incidents at Pitsea station, with five involving a young person.

Figures released in May revealed that nationally, there were more than 250 incidents of people taking risks on the railway recorded per week. Incidents ranged from people taking short-cuts, capturing photos and ‘train surfing’ – sometimes with tragic consequences. A third of all recorded trespass incidents involve people under the age of 18.

Network Rail and Southend United CET are harnessing the power of Southend United FC and sport to educate, engage and encourage positive change for the lives of disadvantaged or vulnerable young people in the area.

Southend United CET is working on several activities planned for the coming months. Today, it has posted a video message on social media from Southend United and Southend United Ladies players, warning young people about the dangers found on the railway.

Rupert Lown, director of safety for Network Rail Anglia, said: “Young people and adults alike continue to risk their lives by going onto the railway and it has to stop. Last year,1,645 railway trespass incidents were recorded in Anglia, and each one of these incidents could have been a potential catastrophe leading to life-changing injuries or even death.

“The figures tell us trespass is increasing, so I am pleased we’re working with Southend United Community & Educational Trust to use sport as a vehicle to communicate with this hard-to-reach audience.”

Dale Spiby, CEO of Southend United Community & Educational Trust, said: “As a Community Trust we are grateful for the opportunity to join forces with Network Rail and help spread the You vs Train message to young people within Southend-on-Sea.

“Keeping people safe is amongst the highest priorities in our society and so the more young people we can reach, engage and influence about the dangers of the rail tracks, the more people we save.

“Hopefully this is the beginning of a long and successful piece of work with a valuable lasting outcome.”

Robin Smith, BTP assistant chief constable, said: “The lack of knowledge about the potential dangers seems to be why young people 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.”

Mike Evans, director of operations at the EFL Trust, said: “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.”

To watch the new video and find out how to keep your children safe on the railway visit: www.YouVsTrain.co.uk.