September 2020 trespassing incidents on UK network highest in five years
With 1,239 trespassing incidents on the UK rail network during September 2020 alone, Network Rail and the BTP have stressed the importance of safety.
Newly released figures from Network Rail and the British Transport Police (BTP) have shown that there were 5,100 trespassing incidents over the summer months of 2020, with the total number of incidents recorded in September 2020 – 1,239 – the worst recorded for that month in the past five years.
Trespassing 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 the problem of youth trespassing, the number of incidents across the rail network involving young people aged 18 or under at key target locations has been decreasing year on year.
However, the overall national figures are bucking this trend and, for the first time in three years, the total number of trespassing incidents in August and September 2020 have actually increased – by 12 per cent and 17 per cent, respectively – as compared to the same months in 2019.
As well as releasing the figures, Network Rail has issued a number of images caught on CCTV which show the variety of trespassing incidents that have taken place across the UK during 2020. These seem to show adults using the railway as a backdrop for photographs.
Allan Spence, Network Rail, said: “These numbers show just how much work still needs to be done to educate people about rail safety. Our ‘You vs Train’ campaign has been really successful getting the message to young people, but adults still aren’t taking heed. Wedding photos or selfies on the track are just plain stupidity. We often warn families at this time of year as kids enjoy school half term holidays. But, this time, we are appealing to adults, in particular. 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. No ifs, no buts – no tears.”
Superintendent Alison Evans, British Transport Police, added: “The railway is not an appropriate or safe setting for a photographic backdrop, no matter how scenic the setting. Every time someone strays onto the rail network, they are not only putting themselves at risk of serious, life-threatening injury, but also delaying essential journeys. Passenger and freight trains are still using the railway 24 hours a day, seven days a week, providing much needed services of transporting people and goods. Please, stay off the track”.
HM Chief Inspector of Railways, Ian Prosser CBE, said: “We keep seeing people take unnecessary risks around the railway, and this behaviour could result in fatal or life-changing consequences. These new statistics showing the increase is truly worrying. The hidden dangers on the railway are real: Each year, hundreds take on the railway and lose, and their actions have far-reaching and devastating consequences for their friends and family. We will continue to work with Network Rail and BTP to educate the general public about rail safety, but also discourage any risky behaviour around the railway.”