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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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Education

Crawley school students launch petition for change as funding cuts threaten their education

The change.org petition has been launched by some students at Thomas Bennett Community College and already has over 200 signatures.

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The school has been in the news over the past few months due to the funding cuts by TKAT.

With teachers leaving the school and residents community meetings being held with councillors it has been and continues to be a turbulent time for all associated with the school.

Now some students have taken it upon themselves to launch their own petition aimed it seems at changing the school for the better.

The students say:

“We are Students that are currently attending Thomas Bennett. We are undertaking our GCSE’s and are month’s away from exams. With limited welfare support throughout the school, such as a medical room assistant or a pastoral support assistant for each year we are struggling tremendously with the way the school is run due to low funding.”

The student who has launched the petition also mentions how he emailed the CEO of TKAT raising his concerns but was told it ‘wasn’t in their hands and overall should stop talking about it’.

Whilst the petition does not mention it there is a feel that the aim is to bring the school back into public sector as stated by Crawley Council leader Peter Lamb who has show his support of the petition.

The petition states:

“Over the years Thomas Bennett has struggled with funding, only to which this struggle became increasingly more difficult when the academy, TKAT, took over our school. Profit not students success is what this academies aim is and large group of students including me are ready to do whatever needs to happen for something to change! Whether that’s a whole year walkout or a strike with the whole school. “

It adds:

“A walk out is something TKAT does not want to face especially with media coverage and limited time for year elevens, a whole year will not just get bad qualifications with missed time but will also reflect on the education that is being provided for students by this school run by the academy.”

The very fact that students themselves have now made the decision to make a stand shows how passionately the pupils feels about their educational needs but a viable outcome still seems distant.

A spokesperson from the Kemnal Academies Trust commented,

“We welcome our students’ active involvement in their education and the Trust has been working directly with the students at Thomas Bennett.

Funding is a national issue for Education affecting all schools, with the West Sussex “worth it” movement taking a leading part in the campaign to improve funding for all schools”.

The petition can be read here.

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