Nearly 50 people have been killed after taking shortcuts and trespassing across the railway tracks in the last year, according to Network Rail. To highlight this, it has teamed up with British and World 400m hurdles champion Dai Greene to warn young men about the dangers of taking a short cut across the tracks. Shockingly, 88% of accidental trespass fatalities in the last ten years were male with over a third aged 16-25.
Dai appears in an online video, part of a new campaign launched today called “Track Tests”. Dai is given a realistic but unusual running test – across the tracks – but it’s not as easy as it seems, even for a top athlete at the peak of his condition. It’s dark, there’s grease on the line, unexpected trip hazards and it’s raining. It aims to illustrate that if a fit, agile athlete used to leaping high hurdles at speed, is unable to get out of the way of a train travelling at 80mph, then you won’t either. The video will be part of a new Facebook page http://www.facebook.com/TrackTests and online/mobile advertising campaign over the next four weeks.
Dai Greene explained why he was keen to get involved with this new campaign: “Day in day out, I train hard to make sure I am as quick as I can be. On the running track it’s important that my reactions are lightning fast but on the train track - during filming - that didn’t count for much. The experience has brought to life just how many dangers there are on the rail tracks – most of which I knew nothing about. I hope that this film really helps Network Rail to show people that taking the risk is never worth it.”
Dyan Crowther, Network Rail director, operational services explained why Dai is the right man to get across the safety messages: “We know a lot of young men think that taking a shortcut isn’t really a risk, that they can get out of the way of any train but the fatality figures show they are wrong. Dai is one of the most fit and agile athletes in the world, someone that we know young men admire, particularly with the 2012 Games so close. His message and ours is simple - if he can’t survive the shortcut, you won’t either.”
From 01/04/2011 – -31/03/2012 there were 49 accidental trespass fatalities (excluding suicides and fatalities at level crossings). *These figures are subject to alteration following coroners’ inquests.
There were 445 recorded near misses between trespassers and trains with reports of people crossing the tracks to the opposite platform upon realising their train was leaving from there, jumping down to retrieve phones or wallets, walking alongside the tracks as a shortcut home.
From 01/04/2001 to 31/03/2011 (latest full year results)
The peak ages for trespass fatalities are the late teens and the early twenties.
The percentage of male trespass fatalities is disproportionately high compared to their level in the overall population. Although males make up just under 50% of the total population, they have accounted for 88% of trespass fatalities over the past 10 years.
In more than half of incidents, the reason for the trespass is not known or not identified. In those events where the motivation for the trespass is identifiable, the most common reason (37%) is for the purposes of taking a short cut. Other reasons where the trespass is a means to an end include retrieving property, walking dogs, fare evasion, and committing criminal damage or graffiti.
Over the past ten years, the greatest number of trespasser fatalities has occurred on a Saturday. The most common time (on any day) for the fatality to occur for those aged 16-30 is 2200 – 0200. From 2001-2011 there were 205 fatalities in this age group. 75 were during this time period (37%).