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 community safety managers to boost awareness of railway safety. The initiative is a development of Rail Life programme which has successfully worked with schools and community groups to get across safety messages in fun and engaging ways.
The clubs are:
- Brentford FC
- Brighton & Hove Albion FC
- Bristol City FC
- Bristol Rovers FC
- Derby County FC
- Leeds Utd
- Nottingham Forest FC
- Notts County FC
- Portsmouth FC
- Shrewsbury FC
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. Together with the FLT we'll also run a five-a-side boys and girls football competition with teams from each club a national final.
Every day around 24,500 trains run across the network and it's getting busier, with modern, quieter trains travelling up to 125mph. Seemingly harmless pranks or games along the tracks have resulted in painful injury or even death.
Tragically, 164 people lost their lives after going onto the tracks in the last five years. Of these, 70 per cent were struck by trains with 18 per cent 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.