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Morag Kinniburgh reports
"People must realise the dangers posed by railways"
 real 28k

Wednesday, 12 April, 2000, 13:57 GMT 14:57 UK
Trespassers told: 'Track Off'
Drivers recount their horrific experiences
A hard-hitting campaign has been launched, warning of the dangers of trespassing on railways.

The campaign uses pictures of young people who have been maimed by accidents on railway lines, which claimed 122 lives in the UK last year.

In Scotland, 25 people were killed - 17 were suspected suicides - and 16 were injured.

It's there for milliseconds and then there's a bang and you've got to live with it for the rest of your life. It never leaves you

Train driver
The images show a young man who lost a hand, another whose head was badly burned and a third showing extensive cuts on his abdomen.

The "Track Off" campaign is sponsored by the Health and Safety Executive, Railtrack, train operating companies and rail unions.

The industry estimates that repair bills amount to 250,000 a week (26m a year) and trains are delayed by more than 11,500 hours annually because of line obstructions.

Research carried out by Railtrack in 1998 found that the main offenders were boys aged eight to 14 and the prime time for trespass and vandalism was from the spring until autumn.

Scarred man
One of the shock images
Bill Callaghan, chairman of the Health and Safety Commission, said: "The major aim of this initial phase of the campaign is to highlight the dangers of trespass and vandalism to those who are engaged already in this activity or to those who might be tempted into doing so.

"It makes the point quite starkly that railways are dangerous places for those who encroach upon them without regard to their own personal safety or the safety of others."

Between April 1999 and March 2000, 987 trespass incidents were reported in Scotland. There were 966 vandalism reports.

The worst locations were Newton, on the West Coast Main Line, Cowlairs, Aberdeen, Glasgow Central High Level and Bishopbriggs.

Helicopter initiative

Among the initiatives to reduce the number of incidents in Scotland is Operation Skyhawk, in which a helicopter is used to catch trespassers.

Another, Operation Scarecrow, involves blackspots being patrolled by railway staff and British Transport Police.

Campaign image
Another rail victim displays his injuries
The industry is also using a CD-Rom project, which allows youngsters to play a computer game highlighting key safety messages.

The campaign is also publicising the experiences of railway staff who have been involved in fatal accidents.

George Lynam, a driver for 32 years, has seen three deaths under the wheels of his train.

He said: "The first one was horrific because it was at night.

"You're focused on the bright green signal and all around is pitch black.

"All of a sudden the headlights pick out what I thought was a tailor's dummy.

"It's there for milliseconds and then there's a bang and you've got to live with it for the rest of your life. It never leaves you."

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16 Sep 99 | Scotland
Youths charged over train crash
10 Mar 00 | Scotland
Boys petrol-bombed track
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