Earlier this summer, Network Rail and the British Transport Police (BTP) launched a new partnership with the English Football League Trust (EFL Trust) and StreetGames to help tackle the increasing number of people risking their lives on the railway in Bristol.

One of the most problematic areas for trespass in the city saw a 44% increase in the number of incidents in 2018/19 when compared with the previous year. Of these, almost 39% involved children or young people.

Figures released in May reveal that nationally, over 250 incidents of people taking risks on the railway are 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 is working closely with Bristol City Football Club and StreetGames, harnessing the power of sport to educate, engage and encourage positive change for the lives of disadvantaged or vulnerable young people in the area. As part of this initiative, over 20 young people from Bristol attended a round robin tournament in Bedminster on Wednesday 7 August, where they learned about railway safety and met other young people from across the city.  Two of the rising stars of Bristol City F.C, Saikou Janneh and Opi Edwards were on hand at the event to share their experiences and speak with those attending.

The event provided a platform to bring together different people from the Bristol area to share Network Rail’s ‘You vs Train’ campaign message – that the railway is full of hidden dangers and everyone loses when you step on the track. As well as this, those that attended had the opportunity to mix with people that they might not normally meet, breaking down stereotypes and creating positive change.

Dr Paul Clark, director of safety, health, environment and quailty for Network Rail's Western route, 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.”

BTP Assistant Chief Constable Robin Smith said: “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, 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.”

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.”

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