Image Courtesy of Network Rail
Professional football clubs across England are to help reduce the numbers of young people injured or killed after trespassing on the railway by organising a series of sports and educational activities to divert kids away from the dangers of playing on the tracks.
The new partnership between Network Rail and The Football League Trust (FLT) will see 10 clubs work with Network Rail’s community safety managers to boost awareness of railway safety. The initiative is a development of Network Rail’s Rail Life programme which has successfully worked with schools and community groups to get across safety messages in fun and engaging ways.
Tragically, 164 people lost their lives after going onto the tracks in the last five years. Of these, 70% were struck by trains with 18% suffering electrocution by coming into contact with the power supply which can be as much as 25,000 volts. The peak ages for trespass fatalities are late teens and earlier twenties with around one in five deaths in this age group.
In the past year*, records show that there were as many as 8,500 incidents of trespass with at least 1,080 of these involving children or teenagers. More than 100 incidents of people playing ‘chicken’ were recorded and dozens of objects were seemingly deliberately left on the tracks, with 26 incidents of trains striking bicycles. Many of these incidents caused serious damage to trains and infrastructure and disruption to those travelling by train.
While young people were not responsible for all these incidents, Network Rail focuses its education activities on school age children to promote good behaviour.
The partnership will see each club identify a player ambassador who will take an active role in the project by attending sessions and act as a role model. The FLT and Network Rail will also run a five-a-side boys and girls football competition with teams from each club a national final.
Commenting on the partnership, Mike Evans, General Manager at The Football League Trust said: “Football League clubs are at the heart of their communities and therefore have the incredible ability to reach people. Our partnership with Network Rail shows how football can use this ability to talk to young people about a serious issue and make a positive difference to peoples lives.
Gareth Llewellyn, director of safety and sustainability at Network Rail said: “Every day around 24,500 trains run across the network and it’s getting busier with modern, quieter trains travelling up to 125mph.
“We know of too many incidents where seemingly harmless pranks or games along the tracks have resulted in painful injury or even death. The Football League Trust and the clubs involved can help us raise awareness of the dangers and engage kids in something much more positive. The results will be a safer community and better running railway for all.”
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