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British Transport Police

Rail partnership warns against dangers of level crossing misuse following shocking ‘railway selfie’ craze

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Hashtags like #railphotography and #railwayshoot have escalated dramatically in recent years ― with more than 1M uses on trend-setting apps like Instagram, Snapchat and TikTok.

The dangerous craze has contributed to a rise in illegal access to level crossings in Wales ― with 433 serious incidents recorded since the beginning of the pandemic.

The figure was announced today (07 July) by Transport for WalesNetwork Rail and British Transport Police (BTP) ― alongside a stark warning for Welsh residents and visitors alike to stay away from the tracks or risk potentially fatal consequences.

The safety message is shared in an emotive new film, inspired by a series of real-life incidents.

Released alongside CCTV footage of everything from casual “railway selfies” in Harlech to a full-blown photoshoot on the tracks in Neath, it’s hoped that the news will help the three Welsh rail partners to curb the growing trend ahead of the summer school holidays.

A mother poses her toddler on the tracks to take a photo

It’s all part of “At What Cost?” ― a Transport for Wales, National Rail and BTP safety campaign, designed to raise awareness of the very real dangers of  level crossing misuse in Wales and the UK.

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.

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“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.”

Centred around a hard-hitting film, the joint campaign illustrates some of the motives people cite for taking risks at level crossings ― whether to save time, show off in front of friends or take an ‘Instagrammable’ photograph.

Highlighting the true, sometimes fatal, costs of these actions, the film tells the story of three shocking incidents on the tracks ― all through the emotive power of poetry. What’s more, the poem is narrated by members of railway staff from the three organisations ― each of whom have personal experience in dealing with near-misses and even fatal incidents at level crossings.

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Jody Donnelly, train driver at Transport for Wales said: “Over the years, myself and many of my colleagues ― from within station, driver and conductor roles ― have had to deal with hundreds of frightening and sometimes tragic occurrences at level crossings.

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“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… Knowing that despite rising social media trends, our customers are educated on the very real dangers of level crossings.”

The film features as part of a Wales-wide advertising campaign this summer ― appearing across TikTok, Instagram and Spotify, complemented by youth-outreach presentations at schools and holiday parks ― with the aim of driving awareness among young people in Wales.

Richard Powell, Inspector at 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.” 

For more information on the dangers of level crossing misuse and how to avoid incidents, please visit https://tfwrail.wales/about-us/travel-safety/level-crossings or visit Transport for Wales, Network Rail or British Transport Police on Facebook.

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British Transport Police

Police want to speak with this man after a teenage girl was sexually assaulted on train to Llanelli

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British Transport Police have released a photo of a man they want to speak with after a teenage girl was reportedly sexually assaulted in a “prolonged” attack.

The attack took place on a Heart of Wales line train between Llandovery and Llanelli.

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A spokesperson from British Transport Police said: “At 4.40pm on Saturday 26 March, a teenage girl boarded the train and sat opposite a man on a table seat. The man then proceeded to sexually assault her.

“Officers believe the man in the image may have information which could help their investigation.

“If you recognise him, or have any information, please contact BTP by texting 61016 or calling 0800 40 50 40 quoting reference 538 of 26/03/22.

“Alternatively, you can call Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.”

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British Transport Police

Over two years in jail for man who shut down the South Wales mainline and caused £50K worth of disruption

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A man who significantly damaged railway equipment at Bridgend, causing the South Wales mainline to shut down, has been jailed following a British Transport Police investigation.

Stephen Mulcahy, 42, and of Erw Hir, Bridgend, was found guilty of two counts of burglary, damage to property, and going equipped for theft. He was sentenced to 27 months in prison at Swansea Crown Court on 11 March.

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The court heard how at just after midnight on Friday 16 April 2021, Mulcahy arrived at Bridgend railway station with his dog and called the railway switchboard to enquire about train times.

A little while later, CCTV shows Mulcahy jumping from the platform onto the tracks with his dog and walking towards a railway compound.

At around 5am, Network Rail reported a power outage on the railway and suspicions grew as workers noticed a key was missing and a door to the generator building was left open.

Officers arrived on scene and found a rucksack on the platform containing rubber gloves and a set of bolt croppers.

Upon searching the compound, officers caught Mulcahy coming out of a building carrying metal signs. He claimed he was in the building looking for his dog, who had come off the lead, and asked officers if he could keep the signs which he had found.

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He was arrested, and upon search, officers found a pair of scissors and set of keys for the generator building in his pocket.

Significant damage had been caused in the building, including several cables pulled from their termination points, which triggered the loss of power to the railway signalling.

The damage to railway equipment affected 33 trains, delayed the network for a total of 1,209 minutes and cost the railway £53,561 in disruption. Over £5,000 in damage repairs was also caused to the compound.

The history of the power supply indicated the damage to the cabling occurred at approximately 4am and CCTV and forensics placed Mulcahy at the scene.

Sign stolen by Mulcahy (Image: BTP)
Bolt cutters Mulcahy had been carrying (Image: BTP)
Damage caused to the cabling system (Image: BTP)

BTP Detective Constable Dan Murdoch said: “This was a determined act which cost the railway thousands of pounds and caused significant disruption to passengers, including to key workers who may have relied on public transport in the middle of the pandemic.

“These sentences demonstrate just how seriously the courts take such incidents, and we hope this will give Mulcahy time to reflect on his actions and stop him from committing similar offences in the future.

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“We are committed to tackling all forms of criminal damage and work closely with Network Rail and other industry partners to make the railway a difficult place for these criminals to operate.”

Bill Kelly, Wales & Borders route director at Network Rail said: “This was a mindless and incomprehensible act of vandalism that had very serious consequences for the railway in South Wales and beyond – affecting our passengers and freight customers and wasting thousands of pounds of taxpayer’s money.

“The sentence handed down sends a powerful signal: these crimes won’t go unpunished, and I’d like to pay tribute to the Network Rail colleagues involved and the British Transport Police. This conviction demonstrates the strength of our partnership across Wales and Borders as we work together to stamp out crime on the rail network.”

(Lead image: South Wales Police)

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British Transport Police

Life-saving defibrillators at train stations damaged

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British Transport Police are warning of the consequences of damaging defibrillators after a spate of vandalism at train stations across Wales.

Defibrillators, which are used to give a high energy electric shock to the heart of someone who is in cardiac arrest, were recently installed at several stations by Transport for Wales.

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Since their instillation, seven incidents of defibrillators being damaged or stolen have been reported in the last nine months at locations including Pencoed, Ninian Park, Briton Ferry, Sarn, Llandeilio and Llandudno.

British Transport Police Officers are patrolling stations and cameras have been installed to capture incidents and pursue prosecution against any offenders. Defibrillators have also been locked in cabinets to prevent theft or damage.

According to British Heart Foundation Cymru, there are around 2,800 out-of-hospital cardiac arrests in Wales each year, but just 1 in 20 people survive.

Every minute without cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) and defibrillation reduces the chance of survival by up to 10 per cent, but immediate CPR and defibrillation can more than double the chances of survival.

British Transport Police Inspector Richard Powell said: “Lives are being put at risk by people who steal and vandalise defibrillators.

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“Offenders should think how they would feel if they themselves, or their relatives, were unable to be saved because of equipment being out of order due to vandalism or theft.

“If anyone witnesses anything suspicious on the railway, text us on 61016. In an emergency, always call 999.”

Karl Gilmore, Rail Infrastructure Director for Transport for Wales, said: “It is extremely disappointing that within weeks of the first phase of life-saving defibrillators being installed at TfW railway stations, a number have been vandalised and will now need to be repaired.

“The defibrillators are a vital tool for the whole community and this vandalism is putting people’s lives at risk.

“A cardiac arrest can happen to people of all ages and the use of a defibrillator can greatly increase someone’s chance of survival. It’s important the defibrillators are available in key locations, such as railway stations, and in good working order.

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“We ask anyone who sees a defibrillator being damaged to call the British Transport Police immediately.”

Tomos Hughes, a Public Access Defibrillator Support Officer at the Welsh Ambulance Service, explained: “Once somebody suffers a cardiac arrest every minute counts. They need immediate CPR from those around them as well as a shock from a defibrillator.

“It’s so disappointing to hear about devices which have been stolen or damaged, which is basically putting lives at risk. If you’re that vandal, imagine if it were a member of your family in cardiac arrest who needed that defibrillator – how would you feel if it wasn’t available? Don’t be that person. We would urge anyone with information to contact police.”

Adam Fletcher, Head of BHF Cymru, added: “Every second counts when someone has a cardiac arrest, and, alongside CPR, prompt use of a defibrillator is critical in giving them the best chance of survival. To put it simply – access to a defibrillator could be the difference between life and death, and anyone who vandalises a defibrillator is putting lives at risk.”

(Lead image: British Transport Police)

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