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Howard and Byrne Solicitors, York - Criminal Defence Specialists

Yorkshire Warned "Rail Shortcuts Cut Short Lives"

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12:01am 9th May 2012
(Updated 8:47am 9th May 2012)

48 people who trespassed on the railway in Yorkshire last year were involved in a near miss with a train - and half of those were in West Yorkshire.

New CCTV released today by Network Rail highlights the issue at Leeds station.

Network Rail has joined forces with British and World 400m hurdles champion Dai Greene to warn young men about the dangers of taking a short cut across the tracks. Nationally, 88% of accidental trespass fatalities in the last ten years were male with around a third of them aged 18-25.

Dai appears in an online video, part of a new campaign launched today called "Track Tests".

Dai is given a realistic but unusual running test - across the tracks - but it's not as easy as it seems, even for a top athlete at the peak of his condition.

It's dark, there's grease on the line, unexpected trip hazards and it's raining. It aims to illustrate that if a fit, agile athlete used to leaping high hurdles at speed, is unable to get out of the way of a train travelling at 80mph, then you won't either.

The video will be part of a new Facebook page http://www.facebook.com/TrackTests and online/mobile advertising campaign over the next four weeks.

Dai Greene explained why he was keen to get involved with this new campaign:

"Day in day out, I train hard to make sure I am as quick as I can be. On the running track it's important that my reactions are lightning fast but on the train track - during filming - that didn't count for much. The experience has brought to life just how many dangers there are on the rail tracks - most of which I knew nothing about. I hope that this film really helps Network Rail to show people that taking the risk is never worth it."

Wendy Smith's son Ricky was 15 when he was killed on the railway in Halton Moor, Leeds in April 1997.

Speaking at Leeds station today, Wendy said:

"It's always difficult talking about what happened but it needs to be done. If we can stop another person being killed and another family facing the heartache we are still going through, then it's worth it. My message is really simple - no matter how much time you think a shortcut will save you or how much your mates are saying it's ok do NOT go onto the railway tracks. Your safety is more important than what your mates think."

Phil Verster, route managing director for Network Rail, added:

"We all know that young people - especially young men - think they are invincible. Wendy's story highlights only too tragically that is not the case. When you add to that the fact that an Olympic athlete like Dai Greene cannot get out of the way of a train you have a really powerful message. Last year a train driver reported a near miss with a person on the lines in Yorkshire on 48 occasions. That's 48 times when someone put themselves and others at risk. Shortcuts cut short lives. Please stay off the railway."

Trespass statistics

Nationally from 01/04/2011 - 29/02/2012 there were 425 recorded near misses between trespassers and trains.
In Yorkshire there were 24 reports in the west of the county, 13 in the south, six in north Yorkshire and five in the east. These included people crossing the tracks to the opposite platform in stations after realising they were in the wrong place, jumping down to retrieve phones or wallets and walking alongside the tracks as a shortcut home.
From 01/04/2001 to 31/03/2011 (latest full year national results)

  • The peak ages for trespass fatalities are the late teens and the early twenties.
  • The percentage of male trespass fatalities is disproportionately high compared to their level in the overall population. Although males make up just under 50% of the total population, they have accounted for 88% of trespass fatalities over the past 10 years.
  • In more than half of incidents, the reason for the trespass is not known or not identified. In those events where the motivation for the trespass is identifiable, the most common reason (37%) is for the purposes of taking a shortcut. Other reasons where the trespass is a means to an end include retrieving property, walking dogs, fare evasion, and committing criminal damage or graffiti.
  • Over the past ten years, the greatest number of trespasser fatalities has occurred on a Saturday. The most common time (on any day) for the fatality to occur for those aged 16-30 is 2200 - 0200. From 2001-2011 there were 205 fatalities in this age group. 75 were during this time period (37%).

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