The impact of trespass on the railway is wide ranging – there is the risk of being seriously or fatally injured, trains delayed or cancelled, the long-term effect on train crew, passengers and other rail staff who have witnessed or had to deal with the results of a trespass incident.
Originally launched during lockdown in 2020, the Backtrack competition was designed by members of Community Rail’s Education Network to tackle the very worrying number of trespass reports on our railways despite lockdown restrictions. Children as young as 6 years old had been involved. It is not just childrrn who trespass on the railway. Many of you will have seen images of adults walking across the tracks or jumping down off the platform at a station. Instances in the North East have been recorded on the Tyne Valley at Blaydon and Wylam. The Durham Coast has experience similar issues, particularly near Hartlepool, Redcar Central and between Seaham and Hartlepool.
The 2020 anti-trespass competition was open to young people aged 7 to 18 and it produced some excellent entries. Tyne Valley CRP and others in the Education Network have been able to share some of these on social media and when working with children and youth groups in the limited ways possible within the restrictions in place. You can see one of last year’s winning entries on YouTube.
The Education Network, who were recognised with the 2020 Community Rail Award for the Outstanding Contribution to Community Rail, are repeating the competition in 2021 but this year everyone aged 7 year and above can get involved. This is a national competition, which is being supported by many train companies, Network Rail and British Transport Police.
How can I get I involved? You can create an entry – a song, a script, a storyboard or video which highlights the dangers of trespass on our railways. You can encourage your family, friends, work colleagues and neighbours to get involved too. Through the support of the rail industry there are some great prizes for the winners. Find out more about the competition, which closes on 30 September, at the Backtrack website.
Fiona Forsythe, Officer at Tyne Valley CRP, is a member of the Education Network team who have developed and promoting the competition and she said, “This competition is not just about prizes, anyone taking part will be thinking about the dangers of trespassing on the railway and will be helping to spread the anti-trespass message in a way that the usual publicity does not”.
So why not get involved - you can start by downloading an activity sheet here