You vs Train COVID-19 campaign Image Network Rail

One person stepped off a platform and onto the railway at Bedford station

Network Rail has released figures that reveal that trespassers disrupted vital passenger and freight services 1,0241 times during the first month of the Government’s COVID-19 lockdown.

This an average of 34 incidents a day.

It added that people relying on the railway to get to work and essential supplies to hospitals and supermarkets were hit with more than 380 hours of delay.

As rail services increase due to new government guidelines, Network Rail is urging people to stay off the tracks and not put themselves and others at risk. Allan Spence, head of Public and Passenger Safety for Network Rail, said:

“These figures are disappointing. Trespass is often seen as a young person problem but less than a fifth of the trespass incidents recorded in lockdown involved youngsters. Adults are far more likely to be the ones putting themselves in harm’s way.

“In addition to the many life-threatening dangers on the railway, trespass has a significant impact on the smooth running of rail services until the culprits can be found. It interrupts vital freight transport and delays those workers who have to travel.

“As train service levels begin to increase, it is more important than ever for people to stay off the tracks and stay safe.”

Network Rail said that trespassing is illegal, extremely dangerous and can have fatal or life changing consequences. Trains travel at high speeds and cannot stop quickly or swerve out of the way.

Network Rail said that no incidents were reported on the Marston Vale Line between Bedford and Ridgmont (Monday, 23 March until Sunday, 17 May).

However, during that time there were four trespass incidents between Bedford and Flitwick on the Midland Main Line.

These include a man trespassing on the railway near a bridge and a person walking off of a platform and onto the railway at Bedford station.

Dawn Sweeting, community safety manager for Network Rail, said:

“These trespass incidents on the Midland Main Line are absolutely shocking and show that too many people are ignoring the warning signs and putting themselves in danger.

“We’ve seen a worrying number of incidents since lockdown which could have resulted in tragic consequences.

“It’s never safe to trespass on the railway. You never know when the next train is coming, and everyone loses when someone steps onto the tracks.”

Network Rail has worked in partnership with British Transport Police on the uncompromising You vs Train campaign since 2018. It initially targeted young people and their parents, it aims to educate on the devastating and wide-reaching consequences of trespass.

A new phase of the campaign targeting young adults will be launched in the summer. In the meantime, Network Rail has launched a digital media campaign reminding adults of the stark “Stay off the tracks. Stay safe” message.

Information on the dangers of railway trespass and the campaign can be found on the You vs Train website.