Children Risk Lives on Kent's Railways

15 July 2010, 11:10 | Updated: 15 July 2010, 11:47

Heart's been given a footage from a CCTV camera showing a child narrowly avoiding being electrocuted as he wanders over a railway line after spraying graffiti.

It's as figures are released showing there were 240 reported cases of trespass and vandalism involving young people on the railways in Kent last year.

Network Rail say the youngsters are putting their own lives, and sometimes the lives of train passengers, at risk.

Click here to watch the video

Dave Ward, Network Rail’s route director for Kent said: “It’s good to see the number of incidents involving young people coming down, but far too many continue to risk their lives by taking a misguided short cut or worse, deliberately messing around on the tracks. Unlike cars, trains cannot swerve and can take the length of 20 football pitches to stop.

"Contact with electricity power lines and tracks can result in horrific injuries, burns or even death. We want to prevent such incidents and help young people find more rewarding and exciting ways to spend their free time.”

British Transport Police Inspector Ed Walton said: “BTP officers continue to work closely with Network Rail and train operating companies across the country to educate young people about the dangers of going near the railway line.

“Our message is simple: the railway is not a playground – stay safe and stay out of trouble. Every year we see people risking their lives either by careless actions, such as taking a shortcut across the tracks or by playing on or near the line.

“Anyone who messes around near the tracks is not only risking a court appearance, they are putting their lives at risk.”

The most shocking examples include:

  • 63 incidents of objects, such as stones and bricks and even fireworks being thrown at trains
  • 92 reports of trespass, including playing chicken and taking shortcuts 
  • 15 incidents of graffiti
  • laser pens being shone into the eyes of train drivers at Faversham and Westgate-on-Sea
  • a pellet gun fired at train at Birchington-on-Sea
  • young people ‘train surfing’ at Broadstairs and Minster

The whole ‘kitchen sink’ has been placed on the tracks– many causing costly damage to trains and delays to services.  They include:

  • 15 bikes/tricycles/scooters (Ashford, Broadstairs x 2, Faversham, Gillingham, Gravesend, Leigh, Ramsgate, Swanscombe, Westgate-on-Sea x 2)
  • 3 gas cylinders (Gravesend, Queenborough, Westgate-on-Sea)
  • television (High Brooms)
  • shopping trolley (Kemsley)
  • fencing panel (Rainham)
  • chairs (Northfleet, Snowdown)
  • barbeque (Faversham)
  • traffic lights (Deal)
  • scaffolding (Broadstairs)
  • pram (Ashford)

As the summer holidays begin, Network Rail is encouraging young people to take up more positive activities and not put themselves at risk of serious injury or worse, by taking unnecessary risks on the tracks. Its No Messin’ campaign, which works with local community groups and clubs across Britain, is fronted by world boxing champion Amir Khan.