FORMER Manchester United footballer Paul Scholes is helping to introduce a new railway safety programme in schools, in a bid to cut down on deaths of young people trespassing on the rails.
Supported by Network Rail, the Tackling Track Safety programme brings a fun and engaging method of teaching children how to stay safe around the railway.
Statistics released by Network Rail show that more than 360 people have lost their lives in the past 10 years whilst trespassing on the railway – and almost half of these fatalities are under the age of 25.
The programme has been developed and is delivered by Manchester-based PDF Sports, a company with a track record in sports education schemes.
Christ the King RC Primary School in Walkden is one of the schools that are encouraging children to stay safe near the railway through the programme, with up 100 schools across the country targeted near trespassing top spots.
Sarah McCaffrey from Walkden, gave us the chance to speak to her daughter who attends the school.
She said: “He was in my team and he was dribbling the ball to the correct answer about railway questions.
“I learned not to go on railways because you never know when a train is going to come. They take 20 football pitches long to stop. I also learned that the energy travels for 300 meters out of the pylons.
“I didn’t know who he was but he wasn’t acting like a big famous superstar, he was acting like a normal man, but he was happy and really nice.
“Everybody was asking him questions about how he got into football so that did inspire me to maybe play football a bit, the boys were, let’s say crazy. Literally crazy!”
Her mum added: “It’s amazing how they can link playing football with railway track safety. I had no idea what they were going in for, I knew some skills thing was happening but didn’t know anything other than that.
“It’s a really important topic and as a parent I feel that I’m constantly teaching, but I haven’t spoken about railway tracks until tonight. she didn’t even tell me on the day what they spoke about, typical kids.”
On Salford City FC’s relationship with the programme, Paul commented: “Our club is a big part of the community and we want to work with schools and Network Rail to help make young people aware of the injuries that can happen and the dangers of playing on the railway.
“It was great to see how football can help drive home those important safety messages and if Salford City FC can help prevent one more injury, then we’re winners all round”.
The activities are aimed at seven to 11-year-olds and are spread between six to eight weeks, reinforcing the classroom-based learning activities on how to stay safe near the railway.
Graham Hopkins, Network Rail’s director of safety, told Quays News: “Britain has the safest railway in Europe but still too many people lose their lives on the tracks.
“As the railway gets busier and we electrify more lines to improve services, we must work harder to keep young people safe by making them aware of the dangers that exist.
“Taking a short cut or messing around on the tracks can result in serious life-changing injuries or death.”
WATCH: Paul Scholes on keeping kids safe by the railway