First Minister Humza Yousaf attends launch of ‘Rail Safe Friendly’ for schools in Scotland
First Minister of Scotland Humza Yousaf has today attended the Scottish launch of Rail Safe Friendly, an education programme which teaches young people about the dangers of trespassing on Great Britain’s railways, in order to raise awareness, save lives and prevent injuries.
Rail Safe Friendly, which is run by digital education provider Learn Live, was launched in March 2023 and delivers Network Rail’s video safety content directly to schools via the Learn Live Channel. Already, over 1,400 schools are on board with the programme across the UK and industry partners including ScotRail, Freightliner, Story Contracting, Keltbray and SPL Powerlines have signed up to support the scheme.
Liz Ballantyne, whose 11-year-old son Harrison was tragically electrocuted in 2017 after entering the Daventry International Rail Freight Terminal in Northamptonshire to retrieve his football, also made an emotional speech at the event, highlighting the importance of teaching rail safety before it is too late.
Harrison, from Crick, in Northamptonshire, died at the rail freight depot after he climbed on to a stationary freight wagon and received a fatal electric shock from an overhead cable, despite not touching it.
Speaking at the launch of Rail Safe Friendly for Scotland at Glasgow’s Rosshall Academy, First Minister of Scotland Mr Yousaf said:
“It is vital that children and young people are aware of the dangers present around railways, and I welcome the launch of Rail Safe Friendly. This initiative builds on the valuable work already done by partners including Network Rail, ScotRail and Learn Live.
“I am grateful to Liz Ballantyne for speaking so courageously about the loss of her son Harrison, which is a tragic reminder of what can happen around railway lines. I hope young people at today’s event and beyond will hear and learn the lessons from Harrison’s story.
“I congratulate the staff and pupils of Rosshall Academy for achieving Rail Safe Friendly Gold Level and for engaging so positively on such an important issue.”
Mr Yousaf was joined at the launch event by representatives of Scotland’s Railway, BTP and other rail industry partners.
Rail Safe Friendly is a new addition to the Learn Live Channel, which since 2019, has broadcast Network Rail and other safety content directly to over 20 million young people in more than 11,500 schools across the UK. This work has been undertaken in collaboration with the Trespass Improvement Team at Network Rail.
The broadcasts are delivered through live or on demand content digitally into classrooms and assembly halls via the Learn Live channel. The channel also has a moderated, GDPR compliant LIVE CHAT facility to promote interaction and involvement from the schools and colleges taking part in Rail Safe Friendly.
Stuart Heaton is the founder and managing director of Learn Live and Rail Safe Friendly. He said: “This is a very proud day for the team as we extend our vital rail safety programme to schools in Scotland.
“The total route length of the rail network in Scotland is approximately 1,750 miles, with over 400 miles of that electrified. These are dangerous places and so it is vital that our young people are continually educated that they should never trespass onto or in the vicinity of rail lines.
“Since 2019, our Learn Live channel has been a secure, safe and trusted source for schools to deliver important safety messages to children via content watched in the classroom. Rail Safe Friendly is a new addition to the Learn Live family for 2023 and is a unique partnership bringing together education providers and the rail industry. I would like to thank everyone who has attended today’s launch, along with the school and the rail industry for their support. We are looking forward to spreading this critical rail safety message to school children across the country.”
Alex Hynes, Managing Director of Scotland’s Railway, said: “The launch of Rail Safe Friendly is fantastic news and will help make young people think twice about putting their lives at risk by trespassing on the railway.
“The railway can be an incredibly dangerous environment – trains take a long time to stop and anyone struck by one will suffer serious injury or worse. It’s also full of hidden dangers – like overhead power lines which can carry up to 25,000 volts and kill instantly.
“That’s why our safety message is so important, and we’re looking forward to Learn Live delivering it to thousands of school pupils in Scotland.”
Pauline Swan, Head Teacher of Rosshall Academy, who hosted the Rail Safe Friendly for Scotland launch said: “Rosshall Academy is positioned beside a railway line and across the road from a railway station. Many of our young people travel to and from school using the train. As a result, we feel It is critically important to educate all our young people on the specific dangers associated with being too close to danger areas within the vicinity of a railway.
“Last term our S1 pupils worked with Learn Live on a project to raise awareness across the school community on the importance of rail safety. Through their excellent efforts Rosshall Academy have achieved Rail Safe Friendly gold status. We are very proud of their work on the project and their motivation to continue to share the important message on rail safety.”
Tracy Stevenson, Community Development Executive, ScotRail added: “Rail is one of the safest forms of travel, however, safety incidents involving children still occur, which is why promoting safety on the railway is a top priority.”
“Working in partnership with Learn Live UK and Network Rail to educate young people through online sessions, the new ‘Rail Safe Friendly’ initiative will help spread the vital message and keep everyone safe in and around the railway.
“We believe that the early engagement with young people will help them to make the right choices and prevent them from taking unnecessary risks. They will be able to make smarter, more educated choices when it comes to their safety and behaviours in and around stations and on trains.”
For further information about Learn Live and Rail Safe Friendly, interview requests and photos/video footage from today’s launch please contact Melanie Hill at Gravity PR via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 07527 847423