Warning as railway trespassing surges in Sheffield and Doncaster during lockdown

Incidents of trespassing on the railway have surged during lockdown – leading to rail chiefs making fresh pleas for people to stay off the tracks.

Wednesday, 29th April 2020, 3:49 pm
Updated Wednesday, 29th April 2020, 3:49 pm

57 incidents have been recorded in the Yorkshire area since lockdown with people spotted on the lines in Sheffield, Leeds, Doncaster, Rotherham and Wakefield.

Among some of the incidents reported by Network Rail are:

A man jumping over a fence onto the railway with his daughter to collect firewood.

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Trespassing on the railway has increased since lockdown.

Children dangling items from a bridge over the tracks.

Four quad bikes on the railway.

Two teenagers trespassing under a bridge, potentially putting something on the tracks.

Three youths sat on the embankment above a tunnel with their legs dangling over the edge.

A man on the railway looking for his dog.

Youths on the railway under a bridge, with one being seen running across the tracks by a train driver.

A Network Rail spokesman said: “Trespassing is illegal, extremely dangerous and can have fatal or life changing consequences. Railway lines are used 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Trains travel at high speeds and cannot stop quickly or swerve out of the way.

“As well as other hidden dangers on the tracks, a deadly 25,000 volts run through the overhead wires, which are used to power some trains. This equipment is always on, even when there are no trains around.

“Nine out of ten people who come into contact with the overhead cables die, and the remainder suffer life-changing injuries.”

Almost one third of the trespass incidents recorded since lockdown in Yorkshire involve children or young people. Network Rail’s team of community safety managers visit schools across the region and engage with communities to raise awareness of the dangers of trespassing, but in the current situation many events have been cancelled. People can find out more about the dangers of trespassing using the following resources:

Resources for teenagers - Network Rail and British Transport Police run a hard-hitting safety campaign, You Vs Train, which highlights the devasting consequences of trespassing on the railway - http://www.youvstrain.co.uk/.

Dawn Sweeting, Community Safety Manager for Network Rail, said: “These trespass incidents in Yorkshire are shocking, and show many people are oblivious to the dangers they are putting themselves, their friends or their loved ones in.

“It’s never safe to hang around on the railway or use it to take shortcuts, but sadly too many people ignore the warning signs and take risks that have resulted in tragic consequences.

“We’ve seen a worrying number of incidents at a time when people should be following Government guidelines and staying at home where possible. We are urging people to stay safe and stay off the tracks.”

Superintendent Alison Evans, British Transport Police, said: “Your safety is our number one priority, and we are continuing to proactively patrol the thousands of miles of railway across the country.

“The railway is an extremely hazardous place, and trespass incidents like these can quite easily lead to death or catastrophic injuries.

"I’d urge parents and carers who live in the area to check where their children are playing and speak to them about the risks of the railway, so they understand that everyone loses when they step on the track.”