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Highlands and Islands Labour MSP, Rhoda Grant is backing a new awareness-raising campaign to warn against trespassing on the railway during the COVID-19 lockdown following reports of incidents across the Highlands.
Network Rail’s ‘Stay off the tracks. Stay home. Stay safe.’ campaign will run on commercial radio stations across Scotland and on social media channels from May to July.
Targeting younger people in particular, the campaign has been launched in response to increasing levels of trespass on the railway during the current lockdown period.
Over 70 trespass incidents have been recorded on Scotland’s railway since March 20, when Scotland’s schools closed ahead of the full lockdown on March 23. Network Rail have reported that trespass is proving to be an issue across the country including in locations across and the Highlands.
Commenting on the campaign Ms Grant said: ‘Trespassing on the rail network is a growing problem with recent incidents in Highland and this welcome campaign sends a clear message to stay off the tracks, stay home and stay safe.
‘Many people fail to understand the danger they put themselves and others in when they make the choice to step on the track. Research has indicated that this is a persistent issue – particularly amongst boys and young adults aged 11 – 18 years old.
‘We know that there are often increases in trespass incidents at differing times of year, and this often includes the summer holidays. With the current lockdown restrictions in place and young people not in a formal school setting there is a fear that this could lead to more incidents that normal, so this campaign and message is an important and timely one.’
The public can also help to keep the railway safe by contacting Network Rail’s 24-hour helpline on 03457 114141 to report any locations where trespassers are gaining access to the tracks.
To find out more about the dangers of railway trespass, visit www.youvstrain.co.uk, the campaign led by Network Rail and the wider rail industry to address the issue of trespass on the railway.