New data reveals there was a shocking 37% increase in youth trespass incidents in south east London and Kent last summer as the nation emerged from the first lockdown.

Network Rail and British Transport Police are urging parents and carers to talk to teenagers about rail safety and potentially devastating impact it can have as we prepare once again for the summer and relaxed Covid-19 rules.

The newly released data reveals there was a sharp rise in reckless behaviour on the railway network in the summer, and continued right through to the end of the year.

Network Rail said the stats showed that the lifting of lockdown in July 2020 prompted a surge in the number of trespass incidents on the railway in the south east of London and in Kent.

Network Rail photo

Network Rail photo

Alarmingly the numbers increased most sharply in the under 18s age group, with a 38% increase in the number of incidents recorded as lockdown lifted in July 2020 compared to the previous month.

Network Rail’s route director for Kent, Fiona Taylor, said: “It’s been such a tough year for everyone, particularly for young people, who’ve spent so much time unable to live their normal lives or see their friends.

“So when lockdown ends and the sun comes out, I really don’t want to see happen what we experienced last year. Trespassing on the railway is unbelievably dangerous, especially in London and Kent, where we have the electrified third rail and a very busy network.

Network Rail are running a You vs Train campaign

Network Rail are running a You vs Train' campaign

“We have sadly seen the tragic consequences of young people messing about on the railway. So please, talk to the young people in your lives and remind them of the dangers. I want everyone to enjoy a great and safe summer.”

Network Rail's renewed appeal to parents to discuss rail safety comes amid concerns ahead of the Easter holidays, and the summer as restrictions once again ease.

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.”

Network Rail are running a You vs Train campaign

Network Rail are running a You vs Train' campaign

TV personality and a mother of two, Nadia Sawalha, stated: “As a Mum of two teenage girls, and we are all keen train travellers in my family, I was so shocked to discover the rise in youth trespass incidents since the easing of the first lockdown.

"I think I naively thought this was something that happened more when we were kids and had somehow magically disappeared.

Trespass is a cause of serious concern for Network Rail, which is why the You vs Train campaign was created in partnership with British Transport Police in summer 2018.

Primarily concentrating on young people, the number of incidents across the railway had been significantly decreasing year on year since the campaign’s introduction.

To help combat the expected seasonal climb in trespass, a new You vs Train film – Parallel Lines- has been launched to get children to not only think about the devasting consequences that their actions can have on them and their loved ones, but the wider, sometimes hidden harm caused to the community, in particular rail staff.

The new film will be streamed into schools on 18 March as part of a rail safety broadcast by Network Rail’s education partner – LearnLive. Further information, including how to sign up for the broadcast, can be found on the LearnLive website.