Lifesaving campaign to help tackle increasing number of railway risk takers in Thurrock

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Lifesaving campaign to help tackle increasing number of railway risk takers in Thurrock and Basildon

NETWORK Rail and the British Transport Police (BTP) have launched a new partnership with the English Football League Trust (EFL Trust) and StreetGames to help tackle the increasing number of people in Thurrock and Basildon risking their lives on the railway

The latest national figures reveal more than 250 incidents a week of people messing about on the railway, taking short-cuts and even selfies – sometimes with tragic consequences for their friends and family.

Over one in 10 (191) of the 1645 incidents in 2018/19 involved young people aged 11-18 trespassing on the railway in Essex, East London, Cambridge, East London, Norfolk, Suffolk and Hertfordshire which make up Network Rail’s Anglia route.

In 2018/19, Pitsea was the trespass hotspot with 116 incidents involving both adults and young people, followed by 54 at Grays level crossing.

Thurrock had 151 trespass incidents – the largest number for a local authority in Anglia – with 12 of those involving young people. Basildon had 134.

The partnerships with football clubs Southend United, Norwich City and Ipswich Town will help to educate young people about taking risks on the railway.

Rupert Lown, Anglia’s director of health, safety quality and environment (HSQE), said: “Children, and adults alike, continue to risk their lives by going onto the track and it has to stop. Last year,1645 people in Anglia went on the railway and each one could be a potential catastrophe leading to life-changing injuries or even death.

“Sport is a powerful vehicle for communicating with this hard-to-reach audience. Working in partnership with these sports charities across the hotspots in Essex, Cambridge, Hertfordshire, Norfolk and Enfield, we hope to be able to reach children and teens in those communities most at risk with this incredibly important safety message.”

The ‘You vs. Train’ campaign, launched last year by the rail industry and British Transport Police, saw incidents involving children reduce by 12%, but young people are still risking their lives.

Responding to the continued problem, the industry’s railway trespass group has this year launched a new phase of the campaign, forming partnerships with the English Football League Trust and StreetGames, to drive the rail safety message directly to this hard-to-reach group.

At the heart of the issue is a lack of understanding and awareness of the risks. Research undertaken amongst teenagers last year found that, while most are aware that the railway is a dangerous place, most of them don’t realise quite how dangerous it is or the specific dangers they face when they step on the track.

BTP Assistant Chief Constable Robin Smith said: “The lack of knowledge about the potential dangers seems to be why children choose the tracks as a place to take risks, so our main focus is on providing much-needed education. By working closely with The EFL Trust and StreetGames, it will give us the best possible chance of ensuring that the message resonates where it is most needed.”

The EFL Trust is the official charity of the English Football League and StreetGames is a charity that runs a network of local projects.

Mike Evans, Director of Operations at The EFL Trust, said: “Bringing about positive change in the community is at the very core of The EFL Trust’s values. Football can be an enormous force for good and have a profoundly positive impact on communities – so we are looking forward to helping tackle this issue in those areas where children and young people are particularly vulnerable.”

Stuart Felce, StreetGames Head of Community Safety, said: “We were alarmed to hear how many young children unintentionally risk their lives on the railway every year. Our projects involve working closely with disadvantaged children and young people every day and so we are perfectly placed to help deliver this safety message in a way that we hope will resonate.”

As well as reaching children and teens via The EFL Trust and StreetGames, community engagement managers from across Network Rail, BTP and Train Operating Companies will be out teaching thousands of children about railway safety.

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