Lockdown lift and start of spring sparks youth rail safety warning across South London, Surrey and Sussex

New data has revealed there was a shocking 40% increase in youth trespass incidents in South East London, Surrey and Sussex after the region emerged from the first national lockdown.

  • Shocking stats1 reveal that the lifting of lockdown in July 2020 prompted a surge in the number of trespass incidents on the railway in the South East
  • Network Rail and British Transport Police urge parents to discuss rail safety with their children before British Summer Time starts
  • New safety film – Parallel Lines – will be broadcast into schools on 18 March by Network Rail’s education partner LearnLive

Network Rail and British Transport Police are urging parents to talk to their teenagers about rail safety and the devasting potential impact of trespass to them, their friends and family, and the wider community ahead of the Easter school holiday and the easing of lockdown restrictions.

The calls come as newly released data reveals there was a surge in reckless behaviour on the rail network when the nation emerged from the lockdown last summer, which continued right through to the end of year. Alarmingly the numbers increased most sharply in the under 18s age group, with a 40% increase in the number of incidents recorded as young people returned to school.

Network Rail’s route director for Sussex route, Shaun King, said: “It’s been such a tough year for everyone but particularly for our young people, who’ve spent so much time unable to live their normal lives or see their friends.

“So I know when we see lockdown end and the sun come out, it’s going to be great for them, but I really, really hope we don’t see what we did last year. Trespassing on the railway is unbelievably dangerous, especially here in South London, and Sussex, where we have the electrified third rail and a very, very busy network. If the trains don’t get you, the electricity will.

“So please, before the sun shines and the lockdown eases, have a word with the young people in your lives and remind them of the dangers.”

Superintendent Alison Evans, British Transport Police, added: “We often warn families at this time of year as the evenings get lighter and children prepare to enjoy school holidays. However, this year our concerns are more acute, especially as we are not able to get into schools ourselves to pass this message onto children directly. Trespassing on the railway can have serious, life-changing consequences for the individual, their loved ones and the wider community. Please, make sure you know the rail safety basics and pass that knowledge onto your loved ones. Lead by example and stay off the tracks.”

Trespass is a cause of serious concern for Network Rail, which is why the You vs Train campaign was created in partnership with British Transport Police in summer 2018. Primarily concentrating on young people, the number of incidents across the railway had been significantly decreasing year on year since the campaign’s introduction.

To help combat the expected seasonal climb in trespass, a new You vs Train film – Parallel Lines – has been launched to get children to not only think about the devasting consequences that their actions can have on them and their loved ones, but the wider, sometimes hidden harm caused to the community, in particular rail staff. The new film will be streamed into schools on 18 March as part of a rail safety broadcast by Network Rail’s education partner – LearnLive. Further information, including how to sign up for the broadcast, can be found on the LearnLive website

Information on the dangers of railway trespass and the new campaign film can be found on the You vs Train website.

Photo credit: Network Rail

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