Teens risk lives on railway tracks to take selfies, worrying study finds

One in four 12 to 17 year-olds knows someone who has trespassed on a railway track, research reveals.

Lockdown boredom, a trend for taking selfies in dangerous places and peer pressure from friends are common reasons why teens risk their safety on live lines.

It comes after data shows an alarming increase in railway track trespassing, with some routes seeing up to a 138% spike in incidents.

But despite the dangers, the study of 1,000 12-17 year-olds found 36% have never talked to their parents or guardians about the risks involved.

And 19% said nobody had ever brought it up with them.

In response to the findings, train operator London North East Railway (LNER) has built the set of an empty child’s bedroom which has been hastily left and never returned to.

It is meant to represent the consequences of a tragic loss of life while trespassing on a railway track.

‘The Waiting Room’ will be in place at Eldon Square shopping centre in Newcastle from 28th July to 3rd August.

Newcastle to Darlington is one of the UK’s worst lines for trespassing, reporting 95 incidents alone last year – an average of two per week.

The display is designed to force shoppers to acknowledge the risks and encourage parents and guardians to discuss the dangers with their children ahead of the summer holidays.

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Warrick Dent, Safety and Operations Director at LNER said: “As lockdown restrictions come to an end and the school holidays begin, it’s our aim to do as much as we can to protect our customers, colleagues, and communities from trespassing incidents on our route.

“As a parent, I understand that it’s a difficult topic to broach but the numbers show that it’s an important one to tackle.

“Railway track trespassing is a very real threat which needlessly kills those who risk their lives, and our research identified that more needs to be done to educate people and encourage open conversations between parents, guardians, and their children.

“Children are set to spend more time at home during the summer holidays and often are at risk of boredom, therefore we hope our installation makes parents stop and think, prompting them to speak to their children of the dangers of trespassing on the railway and in turn preventing the loss of lives.”

The study also found 41% of 12-17-year-olds would like the dangers of track trespassing to be spoken about more openly to them.

But 35% of the 1,000 parents who were also polled admitted they had never spoken to their children about it.

More than half of those (56%) said it simply didn’t cross their mind to.

However, 75% of parents and guardians surveyed via OnePoll said railway track trespassing is a topic that needs to be discussed.

This is despite data from Network Rail showing that young people are most likely to risk their lives with 25% of fatal cases tragically under-18.

And despite it being illegal, an average of two people trespass on the railway every hour, with perpetrators who are caught facing a £1,000 fine.

For more information on Network Rail’s safety campaign which raises awareness about the dangers on the track, go to https://youvstrain.co.uk/.

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