FOUR people have been killed on the Airedale railway line through Keighley in the past year, it has been revealed. The deaths – twice as many as in 2016-17 – were among 38 recorded incidents of trespass on the Airedale route. There were also two instances of people receiving non-fatal injuries. Now British Transport Police (BTP) and Network Rail have joined forces to warn of the deadly dangers of trespassing on the tracks. And their message is backed-up by community leaders in the town.
Incidents revealed through a Freedom of Information request include a train driver having to slam on the emergency brakes when four youths ran across the line near Keighley Station, and a man jumping over the level crossing barrier at Cononley after it had been lowered.
At Steeton and Silsden, a woman was seen walking on the tracks and a man was spotted clambering up an anti-trespass ramp at the end of the station platform.
Across the region, the number of young people risking their lives on railway lines has reached a four-year high.
Keighley’s MP, John Grogan, urges people to heed the warnings. said: “A moment’s madness trespassing on the railways – perhaps during the school holidays – can lead to injury for life or even worse,” he said.
“It is British Transport Police who often have to deal with the tragic consequences of trespassing and their latest warning is a timely one which I hope will be heeded.”
said there was an onus on rail bosses to ensure everything possible was done to prevent trespassing.
Earlier this year, after a man in his 40s was seriously injured when struck by a train on the Airedale line in Keighley, Keighley Central councillor Zafar Ali, who is also the current Lord Mayor of Bradford, supported calls for Network Rail to introduce new safety measures amid concerns it was too easy for people to wander onto the tracks.
“People shouldn’t be trespassing on the line but equally the rail company has a responsibility to ensure there are proper security measures in place,” he said this week. “Adequate fencing, for example, will at least act as deterrent.”
Network Rail says it is working hard, in conjunction with BTP to tackle trespassing.
The organisations have launched a joint campaign, coinciding with the start of the school summer holidays, targeting young people in particular.
Latest figures show that across the West Yorkshire railway network, there were 183 recorded trespass incidents involving youngsters in the 12 months until April this year.
In the past five years, the number of young people caught trespassing has rocketed by almost 80 per cent.
Incidents peak in the summer months.
Rob McIntosh, for Network Rail, said: “The railway is an extremely dangerous environment and trespassing on it can have devastating and life-changing consequences.
“People need to realise that it is not a playground and take note of the danger they are putting themselves in when they choose to trespass on the tracks.
“We have a team of 100 community safety managers who carry out workshops in schools and we work closely as a rail industry to reduce incidents – but we need everyone to do their bit too.
“We’d urge parents to speak to their children and keep them safe by educating them about the dangers they face when they step on the track.”
BTP chief superintendent, Eddie Wylie, welcomes the new campaign.
“We hope it will help young people to understand the risks and make the right decisions,” he said.
“Also the hope is it will help them understand that bad decisions don’t just affect them, but will have a deep and lasting impact on their families and friends as well.”