Trespass incidents on rail lines in Cambridgeshire at a five year high -’they are real tracks, with real trains and real-life consequences’ warns transport police
- Credit: Archant
The number of people risking their lives trespassing on railway lines in Cambridgeshire has hit a five-year-high.
Trends over the last five years shows trespass incidents are at all-time high in the region, while nationally one person trespasses and dices with death every hour.
Last year alone there were around 120 incidents where people risked their lives on the rail network in Cambridge - a 41 per cent rise on the previous year.
Inspector Steve Webster from British Transport Police in East Anglia said: “It’s not a game. They are real tracks, with real trains and real-life consequences.
“The number of children we encounter trespassing every year is sadly, just the tip of the iceberg.
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“Every single day we are called to the tracks because a train driver has had to sound their horn or apply their emergency brake in a desperate bid to avoid youths on the line, who then run off, seemingly unaware of the danger they have put themselves in.
“We continue to do all we can to keep youngsters safe by patrolling areas where we know they’re likely to trespass and prevent them from doing so.
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“However, we cover thousands of miles of track and we cannot tackle this issue alone. That is why we are urging parents and young people to heed this warning and take a reality check when it comes to trespass.”
Research shows young people are more likely to take a risk on the tracks during seasonal peaks coinciding with the spring and summer school holidays.
Richard Tew, Network Rail’s head of safety for Anglia, explains: “Every April we see a huge rise in the number of people taking a risk on the rail network and it’s worrying that these numbers seem to be going up.
“The dangers may not always be obvious but the electricity on the railway is always on and trains can travel up to 100 miles per hour, so even if they see you, they can’t stop in time.
“As the railway gets busier we must work harder to keep young people safe by making them aware of the dangers.
“It may seem harmless to take a shortcut, or fun to play on the tracks, but this is not only illegal, it is also very dangerous.
“Taking a short cut or messing around on the tracks can result in serious life-changing injuries or death.”
In a bid to tackle the issue Network Rail and BTP have jointly launched a schools engagement programme, to teach children in trespass hotspots about railway safety.
Additionally, the ‘Tackling Track Safety’ programme will be rolled-out to more than 100 schools across Britain, using sport to educate children about the dangers across the network.
• In 2016, more than 61 children were caught trespassing by police in the region.
• Boys aged 14 to 16 were stopped the most.
• Boys are three times more likely to trespass than girls.
New figures also highlight that youth trespass is more prevalent in areas where there is higher socio-economic deprivation.
Network Rail has joined forces with children’s charity Barnardo’s to deliver safety education in specific areas where trespass rates are high.
To find out how to keep your children safe on the railway this summer visit www.networkrail.co.uk/trespass