Revellers are being advised to take extra care as newly-released data reveals a sharp increase in the number of alcohol-related incidents across the rail network during the festive period.
Of the 7,419 recorded alcohol-related incidents on or around the railway in 2016/17, 16 per cent of those took place over the festive period – between November 24 and January 2, 2017.
Danger points include drunk passengers not taking notice of warnings at level crossings; tripping and slipping at the platform edge, and on station stairs and escalators; and straying onto railway tracks.
As a result Network Rail, British Transport Police (BTP) and The Rail Safety and Standards Board (RSSB) have come together to launch their ‘Keep a Clear Head’ campaign, warning the public to take extra care when travelling on or around the railway network, especially when they’ve been drinking alcohol.
Allan Spence, head of public and passenger safety at Network Rail, said: “Though trains are the safest way to get around, passengers and people living near the railway must always remember that it can be a dangerous place.
“That’s why we’re reminding the public to remain alert to those dangers whilst they’re having fun over the festive season.
“Taking a short cut across the tracks, chancing it at level crossings or tripping at the platform edge can, at best cause delays to your journey; at worse it can result in serious harm.”
According to BTP, there is also a rise in violence at many of the busiest railway stations during the festive season, much of which is caused by excess alcohol.
Between November 24, 2016 and January 2, 2017, the number of violent offences reported at railway stations across England, Scotland and Wales increased by 14 per cent compared with the same period in 2015/16. Almost one in 10 of those offences involved alcohol.
In response, BTP are stepping up patrols at railway stations across the country.
Chief Inspector John Loveless said: “Unfortunately, during the festive season, we see a rise in public order offences and antisocial behaviour.
“Much of this is down to the people involved drinking too much and behaving in a way that would shock them and their family and friends if they were sober.
“If you’re using the railway to get around this Christmas, please keep a clear head. Think about what you would do and how you would behave if you were sober.
“There is no excuse for spoiling other people’s journeys or behaving any differently because you’ve drunk alcohol.
“We want you to have fun but it’s more important to get where you’re going safely.”