Network Rail is joining forces with Young Scot, Scottish Youth Theatre and North Lanarkshire Council’s Active Schools Programme to take its rail safety message to children and young people across the Central Belt.
Launched today at the Scottish Youth Theatre in Glasgow, the innovative new partnership is the largest youth awareness-raising campaign ever mounted by the rail industry in Scotland.
It will target children and young adults aged between three and 26 in nine local authority areas through a range of initiatives aimed at informing them of the dangers of misusing the railway.
The scheme is being funded by the Edinburgh-Glasgow Improvement Programme, which is delivering a range of enhancements across Central Scotland’s rail network including the electrification of the main Edinburgh-Glasgow Queen Street line and the line between Glasgow and Cumbernauld.
David Simpson, Network Rail Route Managing Director for Scotland, said: “The EGIP programme will see the electrification of over 100 miles of railway and significant upgrade works to other parts of our infrastructure.
“The partnership we are launching today will allow us to make sure young people living in the communities alongside the railway fully understand the dangers of misusing it, especially in those areas where we are electrifying lines for the first time.
“This initiative also offers a more creative and imaginative way of communicating our safety message to young people and we look forward to working closely with our partners to further improve safety on the network.”
Mary McCluskey, Artistic Director of Scottish Youth Theatre, said: “We are delighted to be involved in the delivery of this important message to young people across Scotland. Scottish Youth Theatre will deliver around 90 separate workshops for three years to 18 years, by visiting schools and youth groups.
“The workshops will use theatre arts based techniques to explore and to promote awareness of potential dangers, exploring the decision making process and the potential hazards associated with making a hasty or wrong decision. The understanding, self awareness and skills learned in these workshops will also lead to improved decision making capacities in all aspects of a young person’s life.”
As part of the initiative, Young Scot will target its members, aged between 11-26, through social media, on-line articles and outreach teams delivering awareness sessions. Young Scot is also implementing a Rail Ambassador scheme which will see young people promoting the EGIP project in their communities and delivering awareness sessions on the dangers of misusing the railway.
Louise Macdonald, Chief Executive at Young Scot, said: “It’s crucial that all young people across Scotland get access to the information and support they need to make choices that keep them safe. Raising awareness of rail safety is a crucial dimension to this and we’re delighted to be working with Network Rail and other partners to make sure these crucial messages are heard. By recruiting and training young volunteers as Rail Ambassadors, we will be supporting young people to take the message directly to their friends and peers in a relevant and accessible way.”
Councillor Jim Logue, Convener of Learning and Leisure Services at North Lanarkshire Council, added: “North Lanarkshire’s Active Schools Programme will target primary and secondary pupils during PE lessons, after school activities and in community hubs, with an initial focus on the Cumbernauld area where electrification works have recently commenced.
“Active Schools will also run Easter and summer holiday activities for youngsters – times of year when incidents on the railway involving young people traditionally increase.”
The scheme is also being supported by the British Transport Police, who will provide liaison officers to highlight issues and locations along the line of route, and the wider rail industry in Scotland.