Hundreds of people trespassing on railway lines for shortcuts or retrieving dropped phones

More than 400 people in the West Midlands have risked their lives trespassing on railway lines since April this year, official figures show.

Network Rail and British Transport Police revealed the figure as part of the You vs Train campaign to highlight the dangers of trespassing.

It comes after a survey showed almost a fifth of people in the region were prepared to risk life and limb to retrieve a phone, purse or wallet.

David Burgess, head of health and safety for Network Rail in the West Midlands, said: “You cannot put a price on personal safety. Every time someone strays onto the tracks they are placing themselves at risk of serious, life-changing injury or worse. And the effects of the actions can be devastating, not only for them, but their loved ones and the wider community. We want everyone to know and understand that stepping on the track shatters lives. Please don’t take risks. Don’t leave the people around you to pick up the pieces.”

Transport chiefs said thousands of incidents take place across the rail network each year – with three quarters of perpetrators being adults.

And their reasons for straying onto the line include taking shortcuts and retrieve dropped items from the track which is "just not worth it".

Superintendent Alison Evans, from British Transport Police, said: "Unfortunately, every summer we see a rise in trespass incidents. This summer, please remember that stepping onto the railway at any time is dangerous and illegal. Accessing the tracks as a shortcut or to retrieve a personal possession you’ve dropped will have consequences that stay with you and those around you for life. Don’t let a moment of impatience ruin everything – it’s just not worth it."

To raise awareness of the dangers a new video called ‘Shattered Lives’ shows how making the wrong choice to trespass could so easily lead to devastating consequences for not only the trespasser but also their friends and family.

And seven-time Paralympian, Simon Munn MBE, a wheelchair basketball player from Aylesbury, features in the new anti-trespass film after losing his leg in a railway accident after attempting to take a short-cut home by trespassing across the railway.

And while he has been able to rebuild his life as a successful athlete – representing Great Britain in the sport – Simon counts himself very lucky to be alive following the events that night more than thirty years ago.

Paralympian Simon Munn has referenced his own incident in the campaign

He said: "If you’re thinking about taking a shortcut home by trespassing across the tracks like I did, then there’s only one winner. You can’t mess about with a 400-tonne machine and think that you can get away with it. I was very lucky that I only came away with losing my leg.

"I’m incredibly proud of my career as a Paralympian, but that night 31 years-ago was a massive reality check. The outcome of my actions irreversibly changed my life and I regret the pain that I put my family through and the driver of the train."

Information on the dangers of railway trespass and the You vs Train campaign can be found on the You vs Train website.

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