You vs Train – talk to teens about rail safety

Looming lockdown lift sparks youth rail safety warning.

Every time someone trespasses on the railway they risk everything that matters to them.

That’s why we and British Transport Police are urging parents and guardians to talk to teenagers about rail safety and the devastating potential impact of trespass to them, friends and family, and the wider community. It comes ahead of the Easter school holiday and the easing of lockdown restrictions.  

New figures show a surge in reckless behaviour on the railway in the second half of last year, when Britain emerged from the lockdown last summer. The rise in trespass activity continued right through to the end of year.

Alarmingly, the numbers increased most sharply in the under 18s age group. There were 2,087 child trespass incidents between July and December, a 40% increase on the same period in 2019.

A new You vs Train film – Parallel Lines – has launched to get children to think about the consequences trespassing can have on them, their loved ones the wider community:

“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

Nadia Sawalha, television personality and a mother of two, said: “As a Mum of two teenage girls, and we are all keen train travellers in my family, I was so shocked to discover the rise in youth trespass incidents since the easing of the first lockdown. I think I naively thought this was something that happened more when we were kids and had somehow magically disappeared.

Male youth trespassing on the railway, right next to the tracks, daytime

“Trespassing might seem like harmless daredevil fun to some children, but of course it most definitely is not! That’s why it’s so important for us as parents, to have the conversation explaining the devastating consequences railway trespassing can have.

“I’ve sat down with my girls to make sure they know that trespassing can not only harm them and their loved ones, but also harm those they wouldn’t even think of, like the rail staff who might be left devastated by any incident, even a near miss. Let’s all have the conversation guys. It could save lives.”

Allan Spence, head of public and passenger safety at Network Rail, said: “These are truly worrying figures. The number of young people going on the tracks had been going down since we launched the You vs Train campaign in 2018. But lifting the lockdown restrictions in 2020 has reversed that trend. We cannot afford to see this continue.

A father looks distant and upset during a family dinner with his partner and son.

“Every time someone strays onto the railway they are putting themselves at risk of serious, life-threatening injury.

“I ask parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles to sit down and talk to their loved ones today about the dangers on the railway, and urge them not to risk their futures by straying onto the track.“ 

Superintendent Alison Evans, British Transport Police, said: “We often warn families at this time of year as the evenings get lighter and children prepare to enjoy school holidays. However, this year our concerns are more acute, especially as we are not able to get into schools ourselves to pass this message onto children directly.

“Trespassing on the railway can have serious, life-changing consequences for the individual, their loved ones and the wider community. Please, make sure you know the rail safety basics and pass that knowledge onto your loved ones. Lead by example and stay off the tracks.” 

You vs Train campaign

Trespass is a cause of serious concern for Network Rail, which is why we created the You vs Train campaign with British Transport Police in summer 2018. Primarily concentrating on young people, the number of incidents across the railway had been significantly decreasing year on year since the campaign’s introduction.  

To help combat the expected seasonal climb in trespass, a new You vs Train film – Parallel Lines – has launched to get children to not only think about the devastating consequences that their actions can have on them and their loved ones, but the wider, sometimes hidden harm caused to the community, in particular to rail staff.

The new film will be streamed into schools on 18 March as part of a rail safety broadcast by Network Rail’s education partner – LearnLive. Further information, including how to sign up for the broadcast, can be found on the LearnLive website.   

A silhouette of a train driver in the driver's cab looking down the tracks, daytime

You can find information on the dangers of railway trespass and the new campaign film on the You vs Train website

Read more:

You vs Train website

Real life stories

You vs Train: the third rail

Safety in the community

Safety education

Railway safety campaigns