Warnings of ‘potential catastrophe’ at Portsmouth rail stations due to trespassing incidents

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TRESPASSERS at Portsmouth stations are putting their lives in serious danger, the British Transport Police has warned.

Police and Network Rail have teamed up to highlight high-risk rail stations across the UK – two of which are in the Portsmouth area.

Fratton Station. Picture: Chris Moorhouse

Fratton Station. Picture: Chris Moorhouse

Cosham and Fratton stations known as ‘hotspots’ on Network Rail’s list of problem areas and contribute to the 250 trespassing incidents that are recorded each week at stations across Britain.

In Cosham, there were six instances of trespassing in the past 12 months, with a further 18 at Fratton station.

Nationally, children are responsible for a third of all cases, with reports of people walking across tracks, taking photographs from hazardous locations and train surfing.

Network Rail's head of passenger and public safety Allan Spence said: ‘Young people and adults alike continue to risk their lives by stepping out on to the track, and it has to stop.

‘Every day we see over three dozen incidents and each one could be a potential catastrophe leading to life-changing injuries or even death.

‘Sport is a powerful vehicle for communicating with this hard-to-reach audience, so by working in partnership with sports charities we hope to be able to reach young people and teens in those communities most at risk with this incredibly important safety message.’

The news has left Portsmouth top councillor in charge of community safety, Councillor Dave Ashmore,  worried.

He urged those risking their lives to ‘think about others’ and not dice with death ‘for a prank’ or to ‘save some time’.

‘Don’t mess around by putting your lives at risk like this,’ said the Lib Dem politicians. ‘It really isn’t worth it.

‘Trespassing on the tracks like this could lead to death. 

‘But it can affect so many other people too, your family, the train driver – it can ruin lives.’

Councillor David Fuller, who represents Fratton ward, said the station’s security could be the answer to cutting down on trespassing incidents.

He said: ‘I think the rail companies need to get their act together and invest in station security.

‘You’re not going to stop everyone – the individual has to make that decision for themselves – but with fallen fences and the like around the station it certainly makes trespassing easier.

‘The station is a bit of a tip at the moment, so we need to make sure it is as secure as possible.’

Fellow ward councillor, Councillor Tom Coles, added: ‘This is distressing news.

‘Trespass on the Rail Network results in delays and stresses an already overburdened network, not to mention the injury and death that can happen to the trespassers themselves.

‘Having identified Fratton as at high risk of trespass I'm hoping BTP and Network Rail will be looking at measures to reduce this risk and will be contacting them to discuss.’

BTP Assistant Chief Constable Robin Smith insisted education was the key to stamping out any life-threatening incidents, as the transport police and Network Rail partner up with the EFL Trust and StreetGames.

He said: ‘The lack of knowledge about the potential dangers seems to be why young people choose the tracks as a good place to take risks, so our main focus is on providing much-needed education.’