Michael Fabricant is backing a campaign launched by Network Rail today, Monday 14th March, aimed at cutting crime and vandalism on
the railway. Michael says "The 9-16 age group is, by far, the biggest offenders. Young lives have been lost and children mutilated by
playing ‘dare’ on railway lines. Parents and guardians need to ensure their children are aware of this.
"’Surfing’ is becoming an increasingly worrying trend – where youngsters jump onto slower-moving freight trains and try to keep
their balance on the train as it makes its journey forward. Unfortunately for some youngsters this highly dangerous activity has
led to loss of life or limbs.
"Last year 34 people died as a result of messing about on the railway. The campaign will be focused on young people in specific
schools and communities. They will be given opportunities to participate in leisure and recreational activities that are safe,
managed and led by an expert. These coaching sessions will be used to promote rail safety messages." says Michael. "Meanwhile, the
cost of crime and vandalism on the railway is estimated to be costing £264 million per year. There are direct costs to the train
and infrastructure operators in repairing damage sustained, as well as indirect costs associated with policing, delays to train
journeys and the shock and trauma experienced by rail staff following trespass accidents. Last year saw 27 million cases of
trespass. And it is the poor taxpayer and commuter who has to pick up the bill".
The main thrust of the campaign is to encourage youngsters to get their kicks through sporting and recreational activities, rather
than trespassing on the railway with intent to commit crime and vandalism.
Network Rail has adopted this encouraging approach as an alternative to previous initiatives, where the emphasis has been on telling
youngsters what they can’t do or shouldn’t be doing. "This just tempts them even further to commit acts of trespass and vandalism,
says Network Rail’s Deputy Chief Executive, Iain Coucher. "Our thinking with this campaign is to provide these particular young
people with taster sessions linked to activities they may well find appealing. The message being that there are other ways to enjoy
themselves and have fun."
‘No Messin’ is being backed by DJ Spoony of BBC Radio 1 fame and a number of sporting bodies including the British Wrestling
Association. A team of qualified coaches from the BWA is to tour the country offering wrestling sessions to kids in rail crime
areas. The campaign will complement the educational work already being carried out in schools and youth groups by representatives
from across the rail industry. It has been timed to coincide with the forthcoming Easter holidays.