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Social media may be a driving force behind a record number of teenage deaths on railways, British Transport Police have said.
With seven teenagers killed on Britain’s rail tracks in the space of 12 months, and a further 48 receiving life-changing injuries, there are fears that casualty rates will continue to rise following the deaths of three young graffiti artists who were hit by a train at Loughborough Junction, south London, in June.
A BTP spokesperson told The Telegraph that social media “could be a factor” in influencing young people to trespass, as they launched a new campaign with Network Rail, urging teenagers and children not to play on train tracks.
The BTP has previously warned the public against taking photographs for social media on the tracks.
A Network Rail spokesperson added their research shows young people do not realise the dangers of trespassing on tracks.
Trespassing by minors has increased by 80 per cent since 2013, rising by 21 per cent in the last year alone. In a study by Network Rail, one in ten teenagers admitted to illegally walking on a railway.
A video posted by the campaign tells the story of a teenager who received life-changing injuries from overhead power cables he did not even touch after trespassing on rail tracks as a friend filmed him on a smartphone.
Allan Spence, head of public and passenger safety at Network Rail, explained: “Hundreds of people each year unintentionally take on the railway and lose. This year we have already seen a record number of young people losing their life or being injured on the track.
“The railway is full of both obvious and hidden dangers. The electricity on the railway is always on and always dangerous. Trains can also travel up to 125 miles per hour, so even if a driver can see your child, they can’t stop in time and they can’t change direction. Parents - please help us keep your children safe by educating them about what they take on when they step on the track.”
BTP Assistant Chief Constable Robin Smith said: “The tracks are not a playground. They’re incredibly dangerous and can easily result in serious injury or worse.
“We hope the campaign will help young people to understand the risks, and help them to make the right decision and stay away from railway lines.
“Equally, it will also help them understand that bad decisions don’t just affect them, but they will have a deep and lasting impact on their families and friends as well. This campaign is not just for our young people but also their friends and family.”
This article first appeared on www.telegraph.co.uk
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