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New figures have been released, which reveal over 250 incidents a week have been recorded by people messing about on the railway – taking short-cuts, capturing photos and even ‘train surfing’ – sometimes with tragic consequences. Young people (under 18) make up one of the largest categories, responsible for a third of all cases.
Allan Spence, Head of Passenger and Public Safety at Network Rail, said: “Children, and adults alike, continue to risk their lives by going onto the track and it has to stop. Every day 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.”
The ‘You vs. Train’ campaign launched last year by the rail industry and British Transport Police saw incidents involving children reduce by 12 per cent, but young people continue to put themselves at high risk. Responding to the continued problem, the industry’s railway trespass group has this year launched a new phase of the ‘You vs. Train’ campaign, forming partnerships with the English Football League Trust and StreetGames to drive the rail safety message directly to hard-to-reach young people.
At the heart of the issue is a lack of understanding and awareness of the risks. Research undertaken amongst teenagers last year found that, while most are aware that the railway is a dangerous place, most of them don’t realise quite how dangerous it is or the specific dangers they face when they step on the track.
BTP Assistant Chief Constable Robin Smith, 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.”
The EFL Trust is the official charity of the English Football League and StreetGames is a charity that supports a network of local projects that operate in the most disadvantaged communities. Both organisations harness the power of sport to educate, engage and encourage positive change for the lives of disadvantaged young people.
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 people unintentionally risk their lives on the railway every year. The network of StreetGames projects work closely with young people from disadvantaged communities every day and so are perfectly placed to help deliver this safety message in a way that we hope will resonate.”
As well as reaching children and teens via The EFL Trust and StreetGames, community engagement managers from across Network Rail, BTP and Train Operating Companies will be out teaching thousands of young people about railway safety.
A new film highlighting the hidden dangers of the railway will also be launched across social media alongside new content telling the story of Tom – a young boy who suffered life-changing injuries in 2014 when he was electrocuted by the overhead power cables – and his family, to illustrate the life-changing impact that the accident has had on them.
This article first appeared on www.globalrailwayreview.com
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