Police warn young people to stay off railway lines

Young people have been warned to stay off rail tracks during the summer holidays by British Transport Police

British Transport Police CCTV of a young person trespassing on rail tracks in Sunderland
British Transport Police CCTV of a young person trespassing on rail tracks in Sunderland

Taking a shortcut across the rail tracks to chat to a friend, this young man is putting his life on the line.

British Transport Police want to highlight the dangers of trespassing on the railway during the summer months.

BTP officers are urging parents to make sure their children know about the dangers posed by the railway and to reinforce the police message to “stay off the tracks”.

BTP often sees a rise in young people trespassing on rail tracks during the school holidays and officers are worried that someone will get seriously injured or killed.

As a result, it is increasing patrols during the summer holidays to deter young people from trespassing on the tracks or catch them in the act.

BTP Chief Inspector of Operations Derek O’Mara said: “During the holidays we traditionally see an increase in offences on the railway.

“We are hoping that by targeting hot-spot areas and through the education work we have already done, we will reduce the number of incidents this summer and deter the majority of youngsters from playing of hanging around on the railways.

“We are also asking parents and adults to take responsibility and emphasise the dangers to your children.”

The chief inspector said they were not trying to stop children having fun, “it is about keeping them safe from harm”.

“BTP officers are all too often called to incidents where youngsters have been injured, and in some cases killed, because they were messing about on or near the railway,” he said.

“We do not want to have to tell any family that their son or daughter will not be coming home.”

BTP officers are also keen to crack down on offences such as stone-throwing, putting obstructions in front of trains, trespassing and lineside vandalism. Increased patrols thoughout the holidays will include high-profile, high-visibility and plain-clothed operations in targeted areas.

CCTV will also be monitored throughout the rail network.

When officers stop youths on the tracks, they will find out which school they attend to see if it has a particular problem.

After the holidays, liaison officers will then visit the schools to educate children about the dangers and consequences of their actions.

Chief Insp O’Mara said: “With hard work and the support of our rail industry partners, we have reduced route crime offences by 10% in the last year.

“But we will never become complacent, and I cannot overstate just how dangerous trespassing on the railway is.

“Though youngsters may think they are perfectly safe and can get out of the way of any trains, they often fail to realise the danger they are in.

“Trains can approach quietly and, if you are trespassing, often when you do hear an approaching train it can be too late to move out of the way.

“Also, unlike cars, trains cannot swerve to avoid people or items in their path and it can take up to the length of 20 football pitches for a train to stop. The message is simple. Stop causing trouble, stay safe and stay off the tracks.”

Phil Verster, route managing director for Network Rail, added: “We know the railway proves a tempting location to young people, especially during the good weather and school holidays. As well as causing delay to train services all too often this ends in tragedy. Our railway is incredibly busy and the trackside is a dirty and dangerous environment for anyone who is not trained to be.

“Whatever the reason for trespassing, whether it’s a shortcut, boredom or anything else, it simply is not worth the risk. I ask parents to reinforce our safety message and to young people my message could not be clearer. Please stay off the railway.”

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