As the COVID-19 lockdown eases around the country, Network Rail and British Transport Police (BTP) are warning people of the dangers of trespass and level crossing misuse after a surge of incidents, with several people caught risking serious injury or worse on camera.
During the summer months, cameras have captured dozens of incidents as people wander along the tracks or misuse level crossings by stopping to take ‘selfies’ or pictures of others, including their own babies or toddlers.
The worrying images have led to a plea from Network Rail and BTP for people not to loiter or be complacent when using a level crossing, no matter how scenic the location. Parents are also being asked to ensure their children are closely supervised when in the vicinity of the railway and that the signage that informs a user to Stop, Look and Listen is observed. People who don’t follow these rules are risking serious consequences.
In North Wales, Harlech has been one of those areas worst affected, with cameras regularly capturing people misusing the crossing.
Other repeat locations in North Wales include Rhyl, Porthmadog, Shotton Low and High Level, Colwyn Bay, Holyhead and Conwy railway stations.
The worrying trend has seen BTP record 221 incidents of trespass and 67 incidents of misuse at Welsh level crossings so far this year – although the actual number of occasions people have risked their lives is thought to be much higher.
As well as causing risk to those involved, these incidents have also led to delays for passengers with more than 7,000 minutes of delay caused directly by trespass and level crossing misuse so far this year.
The warnings come hard on the heels of similar appeals by Network Rail and the BTP in Kent, where a group of walkers narrowly avoided being mown down by a train after they ran across in front of it.
Andrew Bound, Network Rail’s Wales route level crossing manager, said: “We are incredibly worried about the spike in the number of trespass and level crossing misuse incidents during the summer months.
“Our cameras have captured some irresponsible behaviour and together with BTP we are urging people to not trespass and use level crossings safely – it is not worth risking your life.
“We will continue to work with BTP to warn people of the dangers, educate them about the consequences and hopefully keep everyone safe.”
British Transport Police embedded inspector Beata Evans said: “Each year, hundreds of people take risks on and around the railway, resulting in tragic consequences and life-changing injuries.
“We are continuing to proactively patrol the railway network across Wales. Safety is our number one priority and we’re reminding everyone of the importance of taking care around the railway and that everyone loses when you step on the track.”