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Updated: Jun 24

Stay Rail Safe this Summer.

With 24th June marking the launch of Rail Safety Week 2024 and school holidays being just around the corner, Flotec is raising awareness to parents and guardians about the importance of their children being ‘Track Wise’ and staying ‘Rail Safe’ this summer.

Flotec is raising awareness to parents and guardians about the importance of their children being ‘Track Wise’ and staying ‘Rail Safe’

Whilst travelling by train in the UK is incredibly safe, the tracks trains run on are not.

Before delving into some of the dangers found on and around the nation’s rail network, let’s contemplate the disruption that trespassing can cause.

Firstly, trespassing is illegal and could result in court action and a hefty fine.

The Knock-On Effect.

When a person or group is found trespassing, Network Rail must stop nearby train journeys, remove the trespassers and clear up any damages to the track and surrounding area.

Not only does this cause delays to local train operations, but the knock-on effect is also much wider network disruption.

As well as being costly, there are also major hold-ups for both passengers and freight delivery.

A Tragic Story.

On 27th June 2017, eleven-year-old Harrison Ballantyne tragically lost his life after being electrocuted by an overhead line at Daventry International Rail Freight Depot.

Harrison had entered the depot and climbed onto a stationary freight train to retrieve a football when he was struck by 25,000 volts of electricity.

Despite not touching the line, Ballantyne’s fatality was due to the electricity’s ability to ‘jump’ up to three metres.

This tragic case highlights the misunderstandings and misconceptions surrounding the dangers found within a railway environment.

In this instance, even though the train was idle and stationary, the overhead line was very much active.

Watch Harrisons story below.

A Hidden Danger.

Not all dangers on the railway are visible, with one such hidden threat being what is known as the ‘third rail’.

What exactly is the third rail?

Most people would be forgiven for having never heard of this before.

The third rail is a conductor that lies alongside the additional two rails and provides electricity to power a train as it passes.

Whilst railway workers such as Flotec’s on-site engineering team are fully trained to operate safely around this additional rail, trespassers may be completely unaware of its dangers.

What are the hazards?

The third rail carries 750 volts of current and importantly, is always live.

If a person is to step on or touch it, their 70% water mass will act as a conductor, ‘pulling them in’ and not letting go until the power is switched off.

Voltage of such magnitude easily kills. Even if somebody were to survive, they would most likely be left with life changing injuries.

Don’t Mess with the Highspeed Heavyweight.

The obvious threat to life of railway trespassing is the trains themselves.

Potentially weighing in at 400 tonnes, travelling at speeds of up to 125 mph and if required to apply the brakes can take up to the length of 20 football pitches before coming to a complete stop.

The train is always going to win.

Trains operate 24/7 with no ‘quiet time’ on the UK rail network.

The trains themselves are wider than the tracks they run on so, simply stepping aside will do little to better the chances of being struck.

The Ripple Effect.

If a tragic incident occurs due to trespassing on the railway, it doesn’t just affect the trespasser themselves but creates what is often referred to as the ripple effect.

For example, loss of life or life changing injuries causes great upset to family, loved-ones, colleagues, friends, etc.

An incident or tragedy on the line affects railway workers, their families, loved-ones, colleagues, etc.

The same goes for any passengers or people nearby who witness the event as well as emergency services required to attend the scene.

And of course, the wider disruption caused to railway services and operations.

Key Takeaways.

Trespassing is illegal and can result in court action and a fine.

Trespassing can seriously injure or kill.

Some dangers on the railway are hidden.

Overhead and third electric lines are always live.

Trespassing can cause major delays and disruption to railway services.

Trespassing shatters lives.


Remember. Be Track Wise and stay Rail Safe.




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