Two teenage girls have been captured on CCTV doing handstands on the track at a level crossing in Nottinghamshire.
The incident occurred at Nature Reserve level crossing at Attenborough in Broxtowe, Nottinghamshire. At this point, trains travel on a busy line to and from Nottingham at up to 80 mph. Miniature stop lights, that use a red and green traffic light system to make it clear when it is safe to cross, were installed at the crossing in 2019.
Network Rail has released the CCTV footage to demonstrate serious misuse of the crossing. It also shows incredibly dangerous behaviour including people taking selfies on the railway, laying down on the track for irresponsible photo opportunities, or stopping to sit on the crossing, any of which could have all resulted in fatal or life-changing consequences. The footage was captured during a nine-day census in July 2021.
A recent census at the crossing between 30th October and 7th November 2021, showed that members of the public used it over 5,400 times, when 22 incidents of misuse were recorded, 14 of which were of people stopping to take photos.
During the census, 366 vulnerable users were also observed, including not only elderly users, but mostly people wearing headphones, potentially reducing their concentration and ability to hear approaching trains.
Network Rail is working closely with Nottinghamshire County Council, Broxtowe Borough Council, and British Transport Police, to encourage people in the area to always use level crossings safely.
People don’t realise that, unlike cars, trains cannot stop quickly or swerve out of the way. It is vital that anyone using a level crossing follows the guidance and crosses quickly, without stopping.
To help people understand the dangers of level crossings not being used properly, a range of community activities have been organised. Another community event is taking place at Attenborough Nature Reserve on Friday 17 December, and further awareness days are planned for the New Year.
Gary Walsh, Route Director for Network Rail’s East Midlands route, said: “This behaviour at Nature Reserve level crossing is absolutely shocking. The railway is not a photo opportunity and it is never safe to stop or hang around on the tracks.
“The two girls doing handstands are completely oblivious to the dangers they are putting themselves in. This incident could have ended in tragic consequences for them, as well as their friends and family.
“We’ve worked to improve safety at this crossing and will continue to do all we can to keep people safe, but we need to community to work with us. Today we’re joining with Nottinghamshire County Council and Broxtowe Borough Council, as well as British Transport Police, to warn people of the dangers and stop people deliberately misusing level crossings.”
Gary Wood, Head of Highways and Transport at Nottinghamshire County Council, said: “We are committed to working in partnership with Network Rail, the British Transport Police and our District colleagues to tackle any issue relating to public safety.
“It is deeply disturbing that the young people in the video are behaving in a way that could have very serious consequences and I would urge everyone to stop and think about the dangers of railway lines.”
Inspector Mark Clements, British Transport Police, said: “The people in this footage are clearly showing a shocking and blatant disregard for their own safety and others. Trespass is a criminal offence it can result in tragic consequences or life-changing injuries. We regularly patrol this area and remind everyone of the importance of taking care around the railway and to not trespass.”
It is crucial that people take extra care to cross quickly and directly, once they’ve checked it is safe:
- Concentrate – it’s easy to get distracted, especially by phones, music and conversation;
- Stop, look and listen. Follow signs and instructions;
- Check both ways before crossing – if there is a train coming, don’t cross;
- Understand the warnings (signs, lights, barriers, alarms);
- Cross quickly, keeping children close and dogs on a lead.
Network Rail has launched a new rail industry educational programme named “Switched On” for children aged 3-16. It is an interactive resource that has been designed in line with the National Curriculum to help young people make the right decisions, and to always use the railway safely.
A “Beware of the Bubble” campaign also aims to raise awareness of the dangers of distractions such as headphones and mobile phones while using and crossing the railway.