Schoolchildren to witness rail crashes, explosions and fires on trains as British Transport Police hammer home rail safety message

Firefighters helping the walking wounded

STAY OFF THE RAILS – that is the simple and stark warning British Transport Police (BTP) is sending to schoolchildren from the West Midlands, Warwickshire, Worcestershire, Swindon and Worle, near Weston-super-Mare, at a special event being held ahead of the summer holidays.

Around 1,500 youngsters aged 12-15 from the West Midlands area on Tuesday and Wednesday, July 20 AND 21, to witness explosions, fires and train crashes – all of which will be staged by BTP to highlight the shocking consequences of playing on or near railway lines.

BTP receives reports almost every day of youngsters involved in line of route offences. These include: trespassing by running across the tracks; endangering safety by sitting on the edge of platforms with their legs dangling over the edge; throwing stones and other missiles at passing trains; spraying graffiti or placing obstructions such as bikes, shopping trolleys or concrete blocks on the line.

In July 2008, BTP organised an innovative project called Off the Rails, which saw around 400 schoolchildren witness a mock train crash caused as a result of youngsters – played by actors – messing around on a railway line.

It was the first time a project to educate children on the dangers of the railway had been held on such a scale, and it gained widespread media coverage locally and nationally.

Now, on Tuesday and Wednesday, 20 and 21 July 2010, BTP will host Off the Rails 2 – this time with a total of around 1,500 youngsters witnessing FOUR separate railway-related incidents in a bid to educate them fully about rail safety as the summer holidays approach.

The project is the brainchild of Police Community Support Officer (PCSO) Dan Luczak of BTP’s Neighbourhood Policing Team which regularly attends school assemblies and has launched competitions at schools in an effort to educate children about the dangers of the railway environment.

This year’s Off the Rails 2 event will see BTP and partner organisations including Network Rail, Motorail Logistics, West Midlands Fire Service, Warwickshire Fire Service and West Midlands Ambulance Service, stage the following four hard-hitting mock-up disasters:

1. On board fire – Smoking Inferno

2. Electrocution – The Shocking Truth

3. Obstruction – Train smashes into debris placed on line

4. Train crash at level crossing – Major incident: Off the Rails

On each of the two days, scenarios 1, 2 and 3 will take place three times each – at 10am, 11.10am and 12.20pm – with pupils split into groups and moving round each incident in a round robin.

After a break for lunch, all pupils will join up to witness scenario 4 take place from 2.45pm.

Inspector Lee Gordon, of British Transport Police, said: “Our key aim is to teach young people to think before playing on railway lines.

“Police and our partners taking part in Off the Rails 2 hope that by re-enacting four major route crime incidents, as realistically as possible, young people will see serious consequences of committing route crime offences and learn about the impact their actions might have on themselves, their families and other people.

“We are going for impact – this is not a day off school for these pupils.

“Trespassing gets worse during the school holidays. We are hoping this will send a message to kids and hopefully to parents to know what their children are doing.”

The schools involved in Off the Rails 2 are:

South West:
Worle Secondary School, near Weston-super-Mare
Kingsdown School, Swindon
West Midlands:
Barr Beacon School, Walsall
Turves Green Boys School, Birmingham
Colmers School, Birmingham
Heartlands Academy, Birmingham
Bournville School, Birmingham
Arthur Terry School, Sutton Coldfield
Bishop Vesey’s Grammar School, Sutton Coldfield
Kings Norton Boys School, Birmingham
North Birmingham School, Birmingham
Hall Green School, Birmingham
Great Barr School, Birmingham

Worcestershire:
Christopher Whitehead Language College

Warwickshire:
Cosehill School

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