Looming lockdown lift sparks youth rail safety warning - parents urged to warn children of the dangers of trespassing
Network Rail and British Transport Police are urging parents in West Yorkshire to talk to their teenagers about rail safety and the devastating potential impact of trespass to them, their friends and family, and the wider community ahead of the Easter school holiday and the easing of lockdown restrictions.
The calls come as newly released data reveals there was a surge in reckless behaviour on the network when the nation emerged from the lockdown last summer, which continued right through to the end of year.
The figures show that there were 216 reported trespass incidents between July and December 2020 across Network Rail’s North and East route which includes Yorkshire and the North East.
This compares to 125 incidents for the same period in 2019 – a rise of 72.8%. Alarmingly the numbers increased most sharply in the under 18s age group.
Dawn Sweeting, Community Safety Manager for Network Rail said: “We’ve done so much in the past few years to raise awareness of the dangers of trespassing through campaigns such as You vs Train and numbers were reducing. However, the lockdowns seem to be driving some very worrying behaviour.
“Trespassing on the railway is extremely dangerous and can have life changing or even fatal consequences. Trains cannot slow down quickly or swerve out of the way and people should never hang around on the railway or anticipate when the next train is coming.
“We’re asking families across the region to sit down with their loved ones and hammer home the dangers of stepping onto the track.”
Superintendent Alison Evans, British Transport Police, added: “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.”
Trespass is a cause of serious concern for Network Rail, which is why the You vs Train campaign was created in partnership 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 has been 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 rail staff.
The new film will be streamed into schools tomorrow, March 18, as part of a rail safety broadcast by Network Rail’s education partner - LearnLive.