You vs Train – Shattered Lives

A new film has underscored the life-threatening dangers of trespass as a third of adults say they would step onto the railway to retrieve a mobile phone.

We have teamed up with British Transport Police (BTP) and seven-time Paralympian Simon Munn, MBE to launch Shattered Lives.

The film – part of our joint You vs Train campaign – warns about the life-changing dangers on, and around the railway.

Watch Shattered Lives

It comes as a survey has found a third of British adults would risk life and limb to retrieve an everyday object – such as a mobile phone, wallet or keys – from the track. That’s despite 98% being fully aware of the dangers of trespass.

Rupert Lown, chief health and safety officer at Network Rail, said: “It is shocking that so many people are willing to risk life and limb to retrieve an everyday object from the track or make a short-cut, either of which could so easily result in shattering the lives of their loved ones for ever.

“There are more dangers around the railway than people often realise – not just trains but the electricity in overhead lines and the third rail, which is never turned off …

“You cannot put a price on personal safety. Every time someone strays onto the tracks they are placing themselves at risk of serious, life-changing injury or worse.

“And the effects of the actions can be devastating, not only for them, but their loved ones and the wider community. We want everyone to know and understand that stepping on the track shatters lives. Please don’t take risks. Don’t leave the people around you to pick up the pieces.”

Shattered Lives campaign poster showing a family with cracks in their skin
Shattered Lives campaign poster

Adults vast majority of offenders

Trespass is often seen as a youth problem but 75% of trespassers on the railway are adults. Their reasons for straying onto the network include taking shortcuts and retrieving dropped items from the track.

In the last three years, more than 150 adults have been seriously injured or lost their lives as a result of trespassing on Britain’s railway.

Superintendent Alison Evans, BTP, said: “Unfortunately, every summer we see a rise in trespass incidents. This summer, please remember that stepping onto the railway at any time is dangerous and illegal. Accessing the tracks as a shortcut or to retrieve a personal possession you’ve dropped will have consequences that stay with you and those around you for life. Don’t let a moment of impatience ruin everything – it’s just not worth it.”

Shattered Lives film still - a family portrait in a photo frame

“You can’t mess about with a 400-tonne machine”

Paralympian Simon lost his leg in a railway accident after attempting to take a shortcut home by trespassing across the railway.

He has rebuilt his life as a successful athlete – representing Britain in wheelchair basketball. But Simon counts himself very lucky to be alive after the events that night more than 30 years ago.

Simon said: “If you’re thinking about taking a shortcut home by trespassing across the tracks like I did, then there’s only one winner. You can’t mess about with a 400-tonne machine and think that you can get away with it. I was very lucky that I only came away with losing my leg.

“I’m incredibly proud of my career as a Paralympian, but that night 31 years-ago was a massive reality check. The outcome of my actions irreversibly changed my life and I regret the pain that I put my family through and the driver of the train.”

You can find more information on the dangers of railway trespass and the You vs Train campaign on the You vs Train website.

Read more:

How much do you know about railway safety? Take the quiz

You vs train – talk to teens about rail safety

You vs Train – the third rail

“I was burnt from head to toe.” 

“Four years on … I’m reminded by that one decision to go on the railway” 

Preparing for the worst: a mum’s account of a near-fatal incident on the tracks 

Safety in the community

Safety education

Railway safety campaigns