Warning of railway line dangers as new figures reveal third of adults prepared to risk life to retrieve phone or wallet from track

Shocking new figures have revealed a third of British adults are prepared to risk their life to retrieve an everyday object - like their mobile phone or wallet - from the track despite being fully aware of the dangers.

It comes as Scotland’s railway and British Transport Police have launched a new campaign - ‘shattered lives’ - warning of the dangers of trespassing on the railway where making the wrong choice could lead to devastating consequences for individuals, friends and family.

Rail Safety and Standards Board figures show that, in the last three years, more than 150 adults have either been seriously injured or have lost their lives as a result of trespassing on Britain’s rail network.

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Kirkcaldy and Burntisland and stations at South Gyle, Edinburgh and Newbridge are among the trespassing ‘hotspot’ locations identified in Scotland.

Scotland’s railway and British Transport Police have launched a new campaign - ‘shattered lives’ - warning of the dangers of trespassing on the railway where making the wrong choice could lead to devastating consequences for individuals, friends and family.
Scotland’s railway and British Transport Police have launched a new campaign - ‘shattered lives’ - warning of the dangers of trespassing on the railway where making the wrong choice could lead to devastating consequences for individuals, friends and family.

The dangers

The railway is full of hidden dangers. If someone is not hit by an unexpected train then they can be hit by the lethal current in rails and power lines.

The power running through overhead lines is 100 times stronger than home supply and is always switched on. The electricity can also jump - so a person may not even need to touch a cable to be seriously injured.

Modern trains can almost silently reach speeds of 125mph, heightening the danger of being struck, and they also run 24 hours a day.

The electrified third rail is perhaps the hardest danger to see. It looks just like an ordinary rail but carried 750 volts - easily enough to kill a person. It is designed to send power to the train but humans are 70 percent water and a perfect conductor for this electricity. Anyone touching the rail will ‘stick’ to it and the current will pull a person in and not let go until emergency services can switch it off.

‘Don’t take risks’

A new Network Rail survey of 2,000 adults highlighting attitudes to trespassing revealed a third of British adults are prepared to risk life and limb to retrieve an everyday object from the track despite being aware of the dangers. Indeed, 98 percent of adults understand that stepping onto the tracks carries risk of serious injury or death.

Graeme Dey, minister for transport, said: “The number of people willing to make the irresponsible decision to trespass on the railway, even if it is only for a few minutes, is quite simply shocking. Knowingly wandering onto the tracks, despite being aware of the danger, puts lives at risk.

“The impact of injuries or even worse can impact families, friends and local communities. Our simple plea is just don’t do it, a few minutes saved or item retrieved just isn’t worth it.’

Liam Sumpter, route director of Scotland’s Railway, said: “These figures both upset and shock me. That so many people are willing to risk life and limb by trespassing on the railway just for a short cut or to retrieve an everyday object is of real concern.

“Trespassers seem to recognise that the tracks can be dangerous but for some reason think it is ok to risk their own personal safety.

“Every time someone strays onto the tracks they are placing themselves at risk of serious, life-changing injury or worse. The effects of trespass can be devastating, not only for the adult or child in question, but their loved ones and the wider community.

“We want everyone to know and understand that stepping on the track shatters lives. Please don’t take risks. Don’t leave the people around you to pick up the pieces.”

British Transport Police Temporary Chief Superintendent, Gill Murray, said:

“As the school holidays continue in Scotland, we’re expecting to see more incidents.

“The railway is full of hidden dangers. Accessing the tracks as a shortcut or to retrieve personal belongings is not only illegal but is also dangerous. Too many times we have seen the tragic consequences of people ignoring the warnings about trespassing on the railway and taking risks that have resulted in terrible injuries.”

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