Teenage trespass on the railways – a systems approach

Rail trespass and risk-taking behaviours are particularly high among 16–25 year olds. The aim of the research described in this paper is to understand how the communication of safety information to these groups can be improved. The study involves focus groups with 117 young people and 43 interviews with stakeholders drawn from the rail industry alongside professionals involved in working with young people. Participants in the focus groups are shown a set of four safety videos which describe the dangers of trespass. The findings demonstrate a number of misconceptions about the dangers and legality of trespass among young people (e.g. lack of awareness of electrocution dangers). Material which includes emotional, ‘real-life’ information in the form of safety narratives is judged to be the most effective in communicating trespass risks. The study also underlines the importance of combining and integrating technical, educational and community-based efforts to reduce trespass.