Children filmed taking selfies on train tracks in shocking incident

Network Rail has warned people not to play near train tracks after children were filmed taking selfies on a crossing. The warning has been issued as some areas gear up for half term.

Shocking CCTV footage previously released by Network Rail show children misusing level crossings at Charfield in South Gloucestershire, Wantage in Oxfordshire and at Toffles foot crossing, which is near Topsham in Devon. They are shown stopping to take selfies, loitering on the track and failing to stop, look and listen before cycling over a crossing.

The rail operator published the footage as part of a campaign to warn the public about the dangers of rail tracks during the half term holidays. The release of the footage follows a concerning rise in the number of crossing misuse and trespass incidents across Network Rail’s Western route, which runs from Penzance to London Paddington.

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The majority of these incidents have been reported in Gloucester, Cheltenham, Trowbridge, Bridgwater, Plymouth and in and around Bristol, especially near stations and on level and foot crossings. Many of the reports have involved children and young people.

Andy Phillips, Network Rail programme manager for route crime, said: “Incidents of trespass on the railway cause issues for everyone using the network, where an individual could sustain life-changing injuries and in the worst-case scenario, loss of life.

“It is disappointing to see young people ignoring the dangers of level crossings. We are proactively working with British Transport Police to make people aware of these dangers and measures have been put in place to tackle the issue, including additional signage and gates, installing cameras, and hosting educational events.

“We sincerely urge people to stay off the tracks and ensure they understand the risks of trespassing. Anyone who witnesses any trespass incidents is encouraged to report what they’ve seen to BTP via the text service on 61016.”

As some areas gear up for half term, Network Rail and British Transport Police are reminding parents to ensure that their children are aware of the dangers of playing on or near the railway and that they know how to use level crossings safely. They have issued key advice using a level crossing:

  • Concentrate on what you’re doing. It’s easy to drift off and take more notice of your phone, music or a conversation, as the Beware the Bubble safety campaign demonstrates.

  • Stop, look and listen. Make sure you read the signs and follow the instructions, as each level crossing is different.

  • Pay attention to lights, barriers and alarms, which are there to tell you that a train is approaching and it’s not safe to cross

  • Check both ways before crossing. If there’s a train coming, don’t cross. Remember that there may be more than one train and they could be coming from both directions.

  • Cross quickly and safely and do not stop when on the crossing.

As well as the risk of being struck by a train, electrification on parts of the route adds further danger to anyone who misuses level crossings or trespasses on the railway, as 25,000 volts of electricity can jump from overhead lines. Fast-moving trains, slippery lineside conditions and unsteady ground combine to create a serious risk of devastating life-changing injuries, or loss of life.

Richard Pedley, Network Rail’s Western route level crossing manager, said: “It’s crucial that level crossings are only used as a means of getting across the railway, and under no circumstances should people loiter or play on crossings and put their lives at risk.”

Andrew Morgan, British Transport Police Superintendent, said: “Trespassing on the rail network is extremely dangerous and can result in life-changing injuries or, in some cases, loss of life. It’s important children and young people understand the railway is not a playground - it is full of hidden dangers and also a criminal offence to trespass”

“As with all school holidays, we always increase our patrols, looking proactively for those breaking the law. I would urge parents and guardians to have conversations with their loved ones about the dangers of trespassing on the rail network. I would also urge members of the public who witness anyone trespassing to let us know by texting us on 61016 or calling 0800 405040. In an emergency you should always call 999.”