Rail authorities warn of rise in track selfies

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Police and rail officials are warning of an alarming rise in dangerous trackside selfies.

In one instance, a toddler was captured being placed on a level crossing for a picture, and images have been posted on social media showing people posing on the rails.

Rail officials said videos and pictures had attracted more than one million views on popular social media sites, including Instagram, Snapchat and TikTok.

Network Rail said there had been 433 serious incidents reported since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic in Wales alone.

It has now joined with British Transport Police and Transport for Wales to launch a new campaign against the craze, which often uses hashtags like #railphotography and #railwayshoot.

Inspector Richard Powell, of British Transport Police, said: “Messing around on level crossings – including lingering to take photos – is illegal and extremely dangerous. You could be taken to court and face a £1,000 fine.

“Trains approach almost silently, so if you’re distracted, you won’t notice until it’s too late. Take care around level crossings.

“No photograph is worth the risk to you or the consequences for your family and any bystanders.”

The At What Cost? Campaign centres around a hard-hitting film illustrating some of the motives people cite for taking risks at level crossings.

Ronnie Gallagher, route level crossing manager at Network Rail, said: “Our campaign has been designed to complement our priorities of risk management, education and enforcement – all while encouraging people in Wales to consider the true cost of taking a risk at a level crossing.

“With an expected rise in staycations and holidays to Wales this summer – not to mention the imminent arrival of the school holidays – there has never been a more important time for us to launch a safety awareness campaign around level crossings.”

Train driver Jody Donnelly added said: “Over the years, myself and many of my colleagues have had to deal with hundreds of frightening and sometimes tragic occurrences at level crossings.

People seem to think that the worst won’t happen to them but if you’re caught short at a level crossing, it simply isn’t true.

“Unlike cars, trains can take hundreds of metres to stop when travelling at top-speed, meaning that a decision to nip across the tracks can be fatal.

“I have no doubt that our campaign will help to save lives this summer and with this, I hope it will allow myself and my team to rest a little easier.”

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