Young people from local schools, including Colmers and Bournville, are today attending the second day of Off the Rails 3, an event highlighting the very real dangers on the railways.
This year’s event, at Long Marston rail depot, near Stratford-upon-Avon, uses dramatic re-enactments to highlight rail, bus and road safety.
With the long, summer school holidays just around the corner, the safety messages being delivered come at the time the emergency services historically see a rise in the number of incidents involving youngsters messing around during the six-week break from July-September.
Off The Rails 3 is being run by police officers working under the Safer Travel Partnership – a coalition of British Transport Police and West Midlands Police officers who, since July 2011, have been working together with West Midlands transport authority Centro to focus on safety across all modes of public transport in the West Midlands.
Officers will be working closely alongside West Midlands Fire Service,who will also play a major role in Off the Rails 3, delivering a scenario of their own to the children attending, focusing on reducing the number of road casualties.
Meanwhile, the Safer Travel Partnership police officers will deliver two scenarios – one focussing on railway route crime (trespass/Stonethrowing/graffiti/placing items such as bricks or shopping trolleys on the line) – and another tackling Anti-Social Behaviour on buses and the impact this type of behaviour can have on other passengers and the community.
Schools taking part have been selected using an intelligence-led approach from across the West Midlands with data from STP and WMFS to identify relevant hotspots and associated schools relating to the themes which Off the Rails 3 is covering.
The event is being supported by Network Rail, train operator London Midland and West Midlands transport authority Centro.
Inspector Lee Gordon from the Safer Travel Partnership, who is coordinating the event, said: “As with our previous Off the Rails events, there will be a high level of interaction with the schoolchildren over the two days.
“This year, we will have three very different scenarios, focussing on rail, bus and road issues, as we work with our partners at West Midlands Fire Service to deliver key safety messages to 1,700 Year 8 and 9 youngsters who will be taking part next week.
“Additionally, there will also be a Forum Theatre element with drama students from Great Barr performing a play to further drive home the message that Anti-Social Behaviour on public transport has a negative impact on other passengers and communities.
“Once again, we want this to be as realistic as possible to underline the dangers that can exist on the railway, on buses and on roads.
“The event has been timed to coincide with the start of the summer holidays when we tend to see a rise in incidents involving youngsters.
“Our key aim is that what these pupils will see will stay with them for a long time and is the sort of experience they will pass on to their friends and peers.”
One of the realistic scenarios highlighting the dangers of playing on the railways