Bishop Line Community Rail Partnership brought together its many rail industry partners to inspire 180 students from primary schools in Bishop Auckland, Shildon and Darlington and prepare them for safe, independent train travel.

Group of children with Network Rail and British Transport Police

The event took place on Tuesday 4th and Wednesday 5th June at Locomotion, Shildon and aimed to tackle the growing problem of trespass on the railway through safety-based activities.

The year six students enjoyed a carousel of activities delivered by railway professionals covering rail safety, journey planning, mental well-being and driver experience. They heard first-hand what it’s like to work in the rail industry from drivers, staff in customer services, those behind the scenes in roles like train performance plus they met community rail representatives who help connect the railways to the communities they serve. And for a hands-on experience, they explored the tools and vehicles used by colleagues and officers of Network Rail and British Transport Police who work to keep us all safe on the railway.

Sessions were delivered by British Transport Police, CrossCountry, Network Rail, Northern and the Railway Children charity and the event was supported by Community Rail Network, ISS, LNER, Locomotion, Shildon Station Adopters, TransPennine Express, Tyne Valley Community Rail Partnership and Weardale Railway.

The students arrived by train where they could and used their rail safety knowledge on their journey to and from the event. Etherley Lane Primary School in Bishop Auckland, Northwood Primary School in Darlington and St George’s CE Academy in Middleton St George came on the Northern service from Dinsdale, North Road and Bishop Auckland Stations, whilst St John’s CE (Aided) Primary School in Shildon is close to Locomotion so they were able to enjoy the sunny walk to the event.

Jess Young, Rail Education Officer for the Bishop Line Community Rail Partnership comments “It was fantastic to give so many young people the opportunity to embed their learning around these vitally important rail safety messages. Meeting rail professionals in person and gaining an insight into their roles will be a lasting experience for these students; one they will recall when making independent rail-safe choices. They have gained confidence as rail users and I’m sure many of them will also have been inspired to consider rail as a possible career option for the future”.

Felicity Machnicki, Officer for the Bishop Line Community Rail Partnership said, “This event is a fantastic example of the rail industry all working together to address national issues such as trespass, low travel confidence and mental wellbeing challenges, in a welcoming community setting. Our Partnership has strong links and we’re glad to be able to bring together representatives from all our industry partners to leave a lasting impact on the young people in our local community, hopefully making them more confident to make safe travel choices.”

She added “The event is in its second year and its geographical reach has increased. Initially we focused on schools around Darlington and North Road in response to specific trespass issues, this year we have included Bishop Auckland, and we intend to involve more schools from along the line at future events.”