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Campaign aims to reduce number of teens risking their lives on train tracks

The campaign, ‘You vs. Train’, targets teenagers to show them the consequences when they make the potentially life-changing decision to ignore warnings and go onto the railway.

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Alarming new figures reveal more than a quarter of teenagers (27%) confess to behaving in a way that could endanger their life on the railway. One in 10 teenagers admitted to walking along the railway line – more than two fifths of those (42%) in the last year.

The number of young people taking risks on the railway track has gone up by almost 80 per cent in the last five years. In the last 12 months alone, seven young people under the age of 18 have lost their lives and a further 48 people have received life changing injuries.

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As a result the rail industry and the British Transport Police have launched a new campaign – called ‘You vs. Train’, which targets teenagers to make them face the serious and devastating consequences for them and their loved ones when they make the potentially life-changing decision to ignore warnings and go onto the railway, with its obvious and hidden dangers.

Shelley Parkes has urged young people to stay away from the railways after her 12-year-old daughter miraculously escaped with her life after falling onto a live rail in Lewes, East Sussex, recently.

Shelley said:

“I felt absolutely heartbroken when I heard what had happened, especially as it could have ended up a hell of a lot worse than it did.

“Please stay away from the train lines, even if your friends go near them, just stay completely clear as it’s so dangerous. The gates and fences are up for a reason.

“Thankfully we’ve still got her here, but it’s still got a knock on effect two weeks later where none of us are sleeping because of the nightmares. We’re lucky she’s still here as other people aren’t so lucky.”

Pictured: Shelley Parkes

Network Rail safety experts visited the victim’s school, King’s Academy in Ringmer, on Monday, July 17th, to raise awareness around the dangers of trespassing on the railway.

At the heart of the You vs. Train campaign is the story of Tom Hubbard – a young boy who suffered life-changing injuries in 2014 when he was electrocuted by the overhead power cables. Tom suffered third degree burns across 57 per cent of his body and he has been left to deal with the serious physical and psychological consequences ever since.

Tom explains:

“I woke up 11 days later in the burns unit at Birmingham’s Queen Elizabeth Hospital wrapped from head to toe in bandages, heavily medicated and unable to string a sentence together. I don’t think I knew what was real and what wasn’t. When the doctors and my mum came to speak to me a few days later, the enormity of what had happened finally hit me. They explained how lucky I was to be alive, but it was going to be a long road to recovery.

“Four years on I’m still affected by the events of that day and every time I look in the mirror I’m reminded by that one decision to go on the railway. The accident has made me more of an introvert and cautious of trying new things, often opting to stay in during the day to avoid people and wear hoodies and long-sleeved tops to hide my scars, even on hot days”

The lack of knowledge about the potential dangers seems to be why children choose the tracks as a good place to take risks, with only a third (37%) believing that the railway is extremely dangerous.

  • Just under a third (31%) don’t believe that severe burns as a result of electrocution or electrocution by the overhead wires (31%) are risks you might face if you go on the railway tracks.
  • 15 per cent think that it’s safe to walk on the railway track if you check a timetable to make sure there are no trains coming.
  • Almost a fifth (17%) think that getting a dropped/lost item (e.g. phone or football) from the railway track is relatively safe as long as you leave again straight away.

The new data also highlights some worrying seasonal peaks in the number of incidents, with the summer holidays seeing more than double the number of young risk takers, compared to the winter months.

Allan Spence, head of public and passenger safety at Network Rail, explains:

“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.”

A short film re-enacting Tom’s story will be launched across social media and shown in cinemas throughout the summer. Tom’s family will also feature in the campaign to show how Tom’s accident has impacted them.

BTP Assistant Chief Constable Robin Smith said:

“We hope that by sharing Tom’s story, young people who might have previously considered trespassing on the railways will think twice.

“We want his story to be heard – the tracks are not a playground. They’re incredibly dangerous and, as Tom’s story shows, 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.”

The rail industry is also working together to roll out a new schools engagement programme, where community engagement managers from across Network Rail, British Transport Police (BTP) and Train Operating Companies will be out teaching thousands of children about railway safety. BTP officers will also be stepping-up patrols across the country.

To watch Tom’s video and find out how to keep your children safe on the railway this summer visit: www.YouVsTrain.co.uk

Watch Tom’s video below:

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Henry Smith

Henry Smith MP asks, “Are you Crawley’s best small shop?”

The Best Small Shops competition is open to any small shop operating in the UK.

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Henry Smith MP is calling on Crawley’s small shopkeepers to enter the Best Small Shops competition, celebrating the creativity of small shops and the central role they play in their local community.

The Best Small Shops competition is open to any small shop operating in the UK. The competition is free to enter and all shops who enter will also be promoted to consumers through an online Indie Retail Directory.

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Shopkeepers can nominate their businesses until Sunday 9 September via: www.bestsmallshops.co.uk.

Henry said:

“The vital contribution of Crawley’s small shops can be celebrated in a national Best Small Shops competition.

“This initiative is being run by the Association of Convenience Stores (ACS) and is open to any small shop operating in the UK.

“I’m calling on Crawley’s shopkeepers to nominate their businesses. More information, including on how to enter, is at: www.bestsmallshops.co.uk. Applications are open until 9th September.

“An expert judging panel will then put together a shortlist of 25 of the best applications. They’ll be looking for evidence of a small shops’ entrepreneurial spirit, ways they have been innovative in their business and what they have done to have a positive lasting impact on the local community.

“Shortlisted small shops will be invited to a parliamentary reception later in the year to find out which one will be crowned 2018’s Best Small Shop.

“Good luck to Crawley shops taking part!”

A shortlist of 25 of the most impressive applications will be compiled by a panel made up of established representatives from the independent retail industry.

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The judges will be looking for evidence of a small shops’ entrepreneurial spirit, ways that they have been innovative in their business and what they have done to have a lasting positive impact on their community.

The shortlisted small shops will be invited to a parliamentary reception in November to find out who will be crowned the Best Small Shop for 2018.

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