LEEDS United is among ten football clubs teaming up with rail managers to help reduce the number of young people trespassing on train tracks.
As many as 164 people have been killed in rail trespass incidents in the last five years, with the peak ages for victims being late teens and early 20s.
Now a new partnership between Network Rail (NR) and The Football League Trust (FLT) will see 10 League clubs, including Leeds, work with NR’s community safety managers to boost awareness of railway safety.
Of the trespass deaths, 70% involved people being struck by trains with 18% suffering electrocution by coming into contact with the power supply which can be as much as 25,000 volts.
In the 12 months to March 2014, there were as many as 8,500 incidents of trespass with at least 1,080 of these involving children or teenagers.
More than 100 incidents of people playing “chicken” were recorded and dozens of objects were seemingly deliberately left on the tracks, with 26 incidents of trains striking bicycles. Many of these incidents caused serious damage to trains and infrastructure and disruption to those travelling by train.
The partnership will see each club identify a player ambassador who will take an active role in the project by attending sessions and act as a role model. The FLT and Network Rail will also run a five-a-side boys and girls football competition with teams from each club a national final.
FLT general manager Mike Evans said: “Our partnership with NR shows how football can use this ability to talk to young people about a serious issue and make a positive difference to people’s lives.”
NR’s safety and sustainability director Gareth Llewellyn said the partnership aimed at producing “a safer community and better-running railway for all.”
The eight other clubs involved are Nottingham Forest, Brentford, Brighton & Hove Albion, Bristol City, Bristol Rovers, Derby County, Notts County, Portsmouth, and Shrewsbury Town.