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VIDEO: Young people risking their lives on Lancashire railways

train tracks 2

6:06am 18th July 2018
(Updated 12:13pm 18th July 2018)

Shocking figures show that young people are putting their lives in danger around railway lines in Lancashire.

27% have confessed to behaving in a way that could lead to them getting into trouble.

And worryingly - one in 10 say they've walked along a railway line.

That's a four year high in the number of young people risking their lives - with figures skyrocketing by 80% in the last five years.

Over the last year across the country, seven people under 18 have died, whilst 48 have got life-changing injuries.

That's led to the British Transport Police launching a campaign today - www.YouVsTrain.co.uk. 

It's targeting teenagers to make them realise how dangerous their actions can be.

Part of the campaign shares the story of Tom - a boy who suffered life-changing injuries in 2014 when he was electrocuted by overhead power cables.

He suffered third degree burns across 57% of his body and he has been left to deal with the serious physical and psychological consequences ever since.

Tom explains;

"I woke up 11 days later in the burns unit at Birmingham's Queen Elizabeth Hospital wrapped from head to toe in bandages, heavily medicated and unable to string a sentence together.

"I don't think I knew what was real and what wasn't.

"When the doctors and my mum came to speak to me a few days later, the enormity of what had happened finally hit me.

"They explained how lucky I was to be alive, but it was going to be a long road to recovery.

"Four years on I'm still affected by the events of that day and every time I look in the mirror I'm reminded by that one decision to go on the railway.

"The accident has made me more of an introvert and cautious of trying new things, often opting to stay in during the day to avoid people and wear hoodies and long-sleeved tops to hide my scars, even on hot days".

btp summer safety poster

It seems the big issue is that kids don't know how dangerous railways can be.

- 15% think it's safe to walk on a railway track if they are sure there isn't a train coming.
- 17% think that going onto the track to pick up something you've dropped, as long as you leave straight away.
- 28% don't realise that physical injury from being hit by a train is a risk they would face if they walk on the railway track
- 20% don't think that the main line/tracks of a railway are dangerous
- 18% think that there is no risk of being electrocuted unless you touch the main rail track or overhead power cable

And the summer holidays show huge peaks in the number of incidents reported.

Allan Spence, head of public and passenger safety at Network Rail, explains:

"Hundreds of people each year unintentionally take on the railway and lose.

"This year we have already seen a record number of young people losing their life or being injured on the track.

"The railway is full of both obvious and hidden dangers. The electricity on the railway is always on and always dangerous.

"Trains can also travel up to 125 miles per hour, so even if a driver can see your child, they can't stop in time and they can't change direction.

"Parents - please help us keep your children safe by educating them about what they take on when they step on the track."

Steve Lawman is a police inspector at BTP in Lancashire.

He says if you see people playing on the tracks - call 999;

BTP Chief Superintendent Eddie Wylie said:

"We hope that by sharing Tom's story, young people who might have previously considered trespassing on the railways will think twice.

"We want his story to be heard - the tracks are not a playground.

"They're incredibly dangerous and, as Tom's story shows, can easily result in serious injury or worse.

"We hope the campaign will help young people to understand the risks, and help them to make the right decision and stay away from railway lines.

"Equally, it will also help them understand that bad decisions don't just affect them, but they will have a deep and lasting impact on their families and friends as well.

"This campaign is not just for our young people but also their friends and family."

The rail industry is also working together to roll out a new schools engagement programme, where community engagement managers from across Network Rail, British Transport Police (BTP) and Train Operating Companies will be out teaching thousands of children about railway safety.

BTP officers will also be stepping-up patrols across the country.

More news from across Lancashire

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