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Network Rail reveals the consequences of trespassing


12:00am 27th July 2011

Network Rail has released a hard-hitting video about the severe consequences of trespassing or messing about near the railway as a new survey reveals nearly two thirds of parents in Yorkshire have not discussed railway safety with their children.

Furthermore, nearly half of mums and dads in the region don't realise that electrical power is on all of the time and more than half don't know that you can get a shock without actually touching the wires.

As the summer holidays begin, Network Rail has launched the powerful video to specifically highlight the dangers of electricity. Nationally, 69 people have been electrocuted in the last ten years after coming into contact with the overhead wires or the 'third rail'. A further 72 people have suffered injuries or trauma. Of the total, 23 were children aged 15 or under.

The video features a skin biology specialist and a Network Rail electrical engineer, sending a stark message about the power of the current used to run trains and the consequences of coming into contact with it. Mixed with graphic images of people who have suffered burns, the experts talk about how the power used in overhead wires is ten-times more powerful than an electric chair, and recount stories of people who have had their clothes set alight and the coins in their pockets melt.

Dyan Crowther, Network Rail's director of operational services, said:

"Thankfully the number of people killed or hurt on the railways is coming down but every death or injury is preventable. As our video shows, receiving an electric shock is horrific and could affect you for the rest of your life, if you're lucky not to be killed.

"Our community safety teams work tirelessly with young people across Britain to warn them of the dangers and encourage them to get involved in safer and more positive activities. However, we are concerned that many parents are very much in the dark about the dangers of trespassing or playing near the railway. Even though the majority of trespassers aren't hurt, these crimes are not harmless and can result in huge delays and costs. We hope that by getting out this stark warning we can help banish the myths about rail safety and ultimately save lives."

British Transport Police's Schools Education Officer PC Steve Wareing said:

"During the summer holidays we unfortunately see an increase in offences on the rail network. So we are hoping that by targeting hotspot areas, and through the education work we have already done, we will reduce the number of incidents and deter youngsters from seeing the railway as a place to hang out or play.

"The railway is such as dangerous environment, trains cannot stop quickly or swerve, and are often not seen or heard until it is too late. I cannot emphasise strongly enough the dangers associated with this type of crime. One of the worst jobs a police officer has to do is break it to a parent that their child has been seriously injured, disfigured for life or killed; and it's so unnecessary. A little thought by parents and carers will save us having to make that painful visit."

"I am appealing to parents and adults to emphasise the dangers to your children this school holiday, and if you live near the railway, ask yourself if you know where your children are playing."

Gary Cooper, Head of Operations at the Association of Train Operating Companies (ATOC), said:

"People playing on or near railways not only put themselves in serious danger of injury, they also cause disruption affecting thousands of passengers trying to go to work, visit friends or travelling for their business.
"We don't want people hurt and we know how important running trains on time is to our customers. This is why train companies are working with the rest of the industry to keep people safe and to make sure record numbers of trains arrive on time."

Approximately 40% of Britain's rail network is currently electrified. Plans are in place to electrify the railway from London to Cardiff and between Manchester, Liverpool and Blackpool over the next six years.

The parents' survey was conducted for Network Rail by OnePoll - part of the SWNS Group - the UK's largest independent press agency and newswire service. The sample size was 2000 parents across Britain with children under 18 and conducted in July 2011.

Recorded trespass and vandalism incidents April 2010-March 2011

Whilst adults commit more crimes, young people take more risks and their actions are more dangerous - such as playing chicken and graffiti spraying in hard to reach locations. Adult crimes tend to be more platform-to-platform trespass and taking short cuts.

Regional figures* record:
West Yorkshire - 370 incidents
South Yorkshire - 184 incidents
North Yorkshire - 84 incidents
East Yorkshire - 87 incidents
Lincolnshire - 52 incidents

These include young people taking short cuts, playing chicken with trains, bikes, trolleys and traffic cones left on the tracks and laser pens aimed at train drivers.

*Whilst sometimes difficult to ascertain the intentions of individuals, these figures do not include cable theft or attempted cable theft.

** Trespass fatalities: In some instances, the Coroner's Court has yet to classify the fatalities, so this figure is subject to change. This does not include the number of people killed at level crossings or suicides.

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