Plea to parents over trespass on railway tracks by youngsters

Safer Travel team urge parents to keep tabs on children as school holiday approaches.

Parents have been warned about the dangers of allowing children near railway lines. The warning, ahead of the forthcoming half-term holidays, comes as police revealed that  children as young as four or five have been seen trespassing on lines in the region.

With the school half term next week (May 26th-30th) and the summer holidays looming, officers from the Safer Travel Partnership are urging parents to warn their children of the dangers of train tracks and to keep tabs on their whereabouts. The warning comes as figures show that April to August sees a peak in incidents such as trespass on lines, criminal damage and anti-social behaviour near stations.

Inspector Lee Gordon of the Partnership’s Safer Travel Team said: “The question we would like parents to ask themselves is ‘Do I know where my children are?’.

“Sometimes young people can be drawn into messing about on or near railway lines but they need to understand the dangers and consequences of doing so and parents have an important role to play in that.”

Insp Gordon said the report of the four or five-year-olds on the track was on May 5th when they were seen by train staff on the Birmingham-Stratford line at Olton, near Solihull. The youngsters were never traced.

In another incident, between Aston signal box and Proof House Junction in Vauxhall, Birmingham, on May 21st, a train driver saw a boy and a girl aged around eight at the side of the line who had had climbed a tree over a fence to retrieve a ball.

Other incidents include youths standing on the edge of the parapet of Stockfield Road bridge over the line in Tyseley, Birmingham, on April 28th, and stones being thrown at trains.

In one such incident, at Small Heath in Birmingham on April 16th, the driver of a train was unable to continue after his windscreen was hit by a stone. Passengers had to evacuate the train, bringing the line to a standstill.

Cllr Roger Horton, Centro lead member for rail, said: “Safer Travel officers work with schools and youth organisations to educate young people about the dangers of such behavior. What can seem like a bit of fun or messing about can have potentially fatal consequences either for them or someone else.“With the school holidays getting closer our message to anyone thinking about playing around on or near railway lines is ‘Don’t’.”

Terry Oliver, London Midland’s head of Snow Hill services, said: “The Safer Travel Partnership team is doing an excellent job educating youngsters about the dangers of playing on the railway. We run hundreds of services every day throughout the West Midlands carrying thousands of passengers.For the safety of our customers, employees and the public, I urge parents to keep a close check on their children’s whereabouts and reinforce the message that the railway is not a play area.”

The Safer Travel Partnership comprises Centro, the region’s transport authority, British Transport Police, West Midlands Police, London Midland, and National Express West Midlands working together to make public transport in the West Midlands even safer.