Social media sites like TikTok, Snapchat and Instagram are seeing a dramatic escalation in hashtags such as #railphotography and #railwayshoot, in a dangerous trend that is seeing more than 1 million users taking part in illegal railway trespassing for a selfie.
The irresponsible craze has seen a rise in illegal access on a level crossing in Wales with 433 serious incidents on record since the start of the pandemic.
Transport for Wales, Network Rail and British Transport Police announced the figures on Wednesday the 7th of July 2021 as part of their joint “At What Cost?” Safety campaign.
The shocking figures were given with a strong warning for Welsh residents and those visiting Wales being told to stay away from the tracks, highlighting the potentiality for fatal consequences of misusing level crossings across the UK.
A new hard-hitting safety film has been inspired by disturbing real-life incidents to try and get the message across.
The film is based on three shocking incidents which actually happened on the tracks.
The film uses the emotive power of poetry which is narrated by railway staff for each of the three organisations and who have experienced dealing with near-misses and fatalities at level crossings.
The film will be released along with actual CCTV footage of people taking ‘railway selfies’ and the appalling sight of a full photographic shoot on a level crossing that was captured in Neath.
Hope is that the campaign and film along with CCTV footage will have an impact, raising awareness and getting a strong message across to those taking part in the growing trend ahead of the school holidays this summer.
The campaign illustrates some of the reasons people give for taking ridiculous and potentially deadly risks as level crossings, some of the reasons have been to save time, to impress friends or to take an ‘Instagrammable’ photograph.
Ronnie Gallagher, Route Level Crossing Manager at Network Rail said: “Our campaign has been designed to complement our priorities of risk management, education and enforcement ― all while encouraging people in Wales to consider the true cost of taking a risk at a level crossing.
“With an expected rise in staycations and holidays to Wales this summer ― not to mention the imminent arrival of the school holidays ― there has never been a more important time for us to launch a safety awareness campaign around level crossings.”
Jody Donnelly, train driver at Transport for Wales said: “Over the years, myself and many of my colleagues ― from within station, driver and conductor roles ― have had to deal with hundreds of frightening and sometimes tragic occurrences at level crossings.
“People seem to think that the worst won’t happen to them ― but if you’re caught short at a level crossing, it simply isn’t true. Unlike cars, trains can take hundreds of metres to stop when travelling at top-speed, meaning that a decision to nip across the tracks can be fatal.
“I have no doubt that our campaign will help to save lives this summer ― and with this, I hope it will allow myself and my team to rest a little easier… Knowing that despite rising social media trends, our customers are educated on the very real dangers of level crossings.”
Richard Powell, Inspector at British Transport Police said: “Messing around on level crossings ― including lingering to take photos ― is illegal and extremely dangerous. You could be taken to court and face a £1,000 fine.
“Trains approach almost silently, so if you’re distracted, you won’t notice until it’s too late. Take care around level crossings. No photograph is worth the risk to you or the consequences for your family and any bystanders.”
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