Child rail trespassing incidents in Yorkshire see sharp increase amid worries that lockdown lifting will see further surge

Incidents of rail trespass in Yorkshire and the North East have increased by 72 per cent, new figures have revealed.

Rail bosses are fearful that the easing of lockdown restriction measures may mean more teenagers and young people trespass on the region's railways, putting themselves and train passengers and staff in danger.

Network Rail said the lifting of lockdown last summer prompted a surge in incidents, with Rotherham, Sheffield and Leeds all seeing an increase particularly in under 18s.

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The figures show that there were 216 reported trespass incidents between July and December 2020 across Network Rail’s North and East route which includes Yorkshire and the North East. This compares to 125 incidents for the same period in 2019

Rail trespassing incidents have shot up in Yorkshire amid fears they could rise even further after lockdown lifts. Photo: British Transport Police

A new video from the campaign You Vs Train, which follows the story of a teenager who is encouraged to trespass on the railway by his friends, is now to be shown in schools on Thursday.

The video also follows the story of a train driver whose mental health is significantly impacted after having a near miss.

Dawn Sweeting, community safety manager for Network Rail said: “We’ve done so much in the past few years to raise awareness of the dangers of trespassing through campaigns such as You vs Train and numbers were reducing. However, the lockdowns seem to be driving some very worrying behaviour.

“Trespassing on the railway is extremely dangerous and can have life changing or even fatal consequences. Trains cannot slow down quickly or swerve out of the way and people should never hang around on the railway or anticipate when the next train is coming.

“We’re asking families across the region to sit down with their loved ones and hammer home the dangers of stepping onto the track.”

Superintendent Alison Evans, British Transport Police, added: “We often warn families at this time of year as the evenings get lighter and children prepare to enjoy school holidays. However, this year our concerns are more acute, especially as we are not able to get into schools ourselves to pass this message onto children directly. Trespassing on the railway can have serious, life-changing consequences for the individual, their loved ones and the wider community. Please, make sure you know the rail safety basics and pass that knowledge onto your loved ones. Lead by example and stay off the tracks.”