Video drives home rail vandals' threat

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The Independent Online
A national campaign to highlight the dangers of rail track vandals was launched yesterday. It came only hours after a passenger train crashed into a pick-up truck which thieves had dumped and set alight across a main line at Huddersfield, West Yorkshire.

The anti-vandal campaign is aimed primarily at rail employees and safety managers, but it is hoped it will be taken in by the judiciary, town planners and community groups.

The video, I Used to be a Vandal, was made for Railtrack, which owns the national network, by the Swindon-based production company AMC. An actress plays a railway vandal and it features real-life action sequences such as the arrest of a trespasser. One railway engineers maintains: "Nothing short of a machine-gun nest will stop people stealing the fencing."

And a police superintendent talks of "children's bodies being splattered down the line".

The video - supported by the British Transport Police and the Health and Safety Executive - ends with a railways inspector saying: "It is your job and my job to remove any ammunition which vandals can use."

A Railtrack spokesman said: "The most important issue raised is that the railway industry cannot solve the problems of trespass and vandalism on its own. Local communities, councils, landowners, the police and magistrates must work together. For example, the video asks the question: 'What is the point of building a housing estate on one side of the line and a school on the other?'."

The Huddersfield crash followed the theft of the pick-up. Police said it was driven along a track for a quarter of a mile, then set on fire. After smashing into it, the train carried on for another 500 yards. No one was hurt on the Manchester Airport-bound express, which had six people on board, but the main trans-Pennine line was closed for several hours.

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