Fears for second spike in rail trespassing when lockdown is lifted

Parents are being urged to talk to their children about rail safety amid fears of another surge in trespass incidents once COVID-19 restrictions are eased.

There was a surge in reckless behaviour on the tracks by under-18s last summer after the first national lockdown was relaxed.

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British Transport Police (BTP) figures show 2,087 cases of trespassing on the UK’s railways by children were recorded between July and December, up 40% compared with the same period in 2019.

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Network Rail head of public and passenger safety Allan Spence described the increase as “truly worrying”.

He explained that the number of young people going on the tracks had been falling since a safety campaign named You vs Train was launched in 2018, but that trend was reversed when lockdown restrictions were lifted.

“We cannot afford to see this continue,” Mr Spence said.

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“Every time someone strays on to the railway, they are putting themselves at risk of serious, life-threatening injury.

“I ask parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles to sit down and talk to their loved ones today about the dangers on the railway, and urge them not to risk their futures by straying on to the track.”

The stay-at-home rule for people in England will be lifted on March 29 under Boris Johnson’s plan to relax Covid-19 rules.

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Superintendent Alison Evans, of BTP, said the force often warns families about rail safety at this time of year as the evenings become lighter and schoolchildren prepare for the summer break.

“However, this year our concerns are more acute, especially as we are not able to get into schools ourselves to pass this message on to children directly,” she added.

“Trespassing on the railway can have serious, life-changing consequences for the individual, their loved ones and the wider community.

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“Please, make sure you know the rail safety basics and pass that knowledge on to your loved ones. Lead by example and stay off the tracks.”

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Sam Hewitt

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