Musician apologises after using railway to promote debut single

A musician who posed for a PR photograph on railway tracks to promote his new single is urging others not to risk their lives by making the same mistake.

Chris Holden was photographed standing on the tracks of the Parlour Gates level crossing in the village of Oakley, near Basingstoke – a picture he used to publicise his first song as artist King Castle.

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But it backfired when the picture received a backlash on social media for the singer’s poor choice of location.

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Chris, 29, said: “I’m really embarrassed because I just didn’t think about the repercussions or how dangerous it is – it was a stupid thing to do and if I could go back in time, I would.

“I’ve grown up around here, so you just get so used to walking across the railway. I was out for a walk with a friend just taking pictures – it’s a path we walk all the time because it loops around our village.

“One of the shots looked like it was a posed one, and for once I didn’t look too bad in it, so I used it to promote my song without thinking how it could be perceived. After the backlash on social media, I thought to myself ‘what an idiot’.”

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‘Don’t make the same mistake’

Chris is now warning others not to make the same mistake, especially after a recent string of incidents in which the railway was used for photographs, including a wedding, and even one woman who laid down on the tracks for a selfie.

Chris added: “I know people have been bored in lockdown and will be trying different things, but you need to be really careful on the railways. People are out exercising more, running or walking in the woods, so they may come across railway crossings that they’ve not seen before or like me, aren’t educated about.

“This has definitely opened my eyes and I realise how naïve I was about level crossings and how dangerous they actually are. I just hope people will read this, look after themselves and not be as silly as I was.”

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Mark Killick, Network Rail Wessex Route Director, said: “I can’t stress enough how much danger people are putting themselves in when they don’t use our crossings safely.

“Just one silly, split-second choice can have terrible consequences, not just for the people crossing, but their loved ones, train drivers, railway workers and police. So please, don’t take any chances.”

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.

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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 48% increase in the number of incidents recorded on Wessex Route as lockdown lifted in July last year, compared with the previous month.

Inspector Andy Jackson added: “We know all too well the devastating impact that trespass can have, so I can completely understand why this photo received such backlash. Every year we see hundreds of people taking risks like this on and around the railway, which can have catastrophic impacts including life-changing injuries. The railway is full of hidden dangers and no photo opportunity is worth risking your life for.”

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