New crackdown on rail crime

By James HoreA MOVING film showing how friends of a 15-year-old boy dealt with his death while playing on the railway will highlight a week-long anti-rail crime week that is launched today.

By James Hore

A MOVING film showing how friends of a 15-year-old boy dealt with his death while playing on the railway will highlight a week-long anti-rail crime week that is launched today.

The rail industry's message to launch National Railway Crime Week is "Keep off the track and stay alive". During the week it will be highlighting a range of activities aimed at reducing crime on Britain's rail network and the number of youngsters dying in accidents on the tracks.

According to Network Rail, there were at least 450 recorded incidents of trespass and vandalism in East Anglia last year - with Marks Tey and Thetford stations named as railway crime "hotspots".


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Launching the campaign, Jon Wiseman, the Network Rail route director, said: "We must make young people sit up and take notice of the dangers and foolishness of using the railway as a playground.

"The consequences can be harsh, from being frogmarched home by the police to face angry parents, to hefty fines, imprisonment and possibly even serious injury or death."

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Mr Wiseman said the summer holidays were a "peak crime-time" for railways and called for parents and schools to enforce the campaign message of "Keep off the tracks and stay alive".

This week, secondary schools across East Anglia will receive a copy of a film, Tyler 4 Ever, made by school friends of 15-year-old Tyler Deacon in the wake of his death on a railway line last year.

Tyler, a pupil at Soar Valley College in Leicester, died on the Midland Main Line near his home in Leicester last December.

With the help of the rail industry, his fellow pupils have made the film in which they, as well as Tyler's friends and relatives, explain how they coped with his death in the hope that other teenagers will heed the warnings to stay away from the railway.

In recent years co-ordinated industry initiatives tackling railway crime have led to a reduction in the problem. The latest figures released earlier this month by the Rail Safety and Standards Board showed there had been a 29% reduction in all types of reportable train accidents caused by vandalism.

This is a reduction for the third successive year of this type of railway crime, which includes missiles striking trains, arson on board trains and trains running into obstructions placed on the track.

james.hore@eadt.co.uk

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