Social media may be behind record number of teenage deaths on railway, says British Transport Police

Helena Horton
Network Rail has previously warned against taking pictures for social media on the railways - Network Rail

Social media may be a driving force behind a record number of teenage deaths on the railway, according to the British Transport Police.

Seven teenagers were killed on Britain’s rail tracks in the last year, and last month young three graffiti artists died at Loughborough Junction after being hit by a train, which could cause this year to continue the trend.

A further 48 young people received life-changing injuries after trespassing on the tracks in the last year.

A BTP spokesperson  told The Telegraph that social media “could be a factor” in influencing young people to trespass, as they launched a new campaign with Network Rail, urging teenagers and children not to play on train tracks.

The BTP has previously warned the public against taking photographs for social media on the tracks.

A Network Rail spokesperson added their research shows young people do not realise the dangers of trespassing on the tracks, which causes them to take risks they would not otherwise.

Trespassing by minors has increased by 80 per cent since 2013, and it went up by 21 per cent in the last year alone. In a study by Network Rail, one in ten teenagers admitted to illegally walking on the railway.

In a video posted by the campaign, one teenager films on his iPhone as his friend plays on the tracks, before he is shocked by overhead power cables.

Allan Spence, head of public and passenger safety at Network Rail, explained: “Hundreds of people each year unintentionally take on the railway and lose. This year we have already seen a record number of young people losing their life or being injured on the track.

“The railway is full of both obvious and hidden dangers. The electricity on the railway is always on and always dangerous. Trains can also travel up to 125 miles per hour, so even if a driver can see your child, they can’t stop in time and they can’t change direction. Parents - please help us keep your children safe by educating them about what they take on when they step on the track.”

BTP Assistant Chief Constable Robin Smith said: “The tracks are not a playground. They’re incredibly dangerous and...can easily result in serious injury or worse.

“We hope the campaign will help young people to understand the risks, and help them to make the right decision and stay away from railway lines.

“Equally, it will also help them understand that bad decisions don’t just affect them, but they will have a deep and lasting impact on their families and friends as well. This campaign is not just for our young people but also their friends and family.”