SWR uses Rail Safety Week to highlight the dangers of the Island Line’s electrified tracks

Friday 30th June 2023
Two Class 484 trains on the Island Line
  • South Western Railway reminds Island Line customers that its tracks are electrified 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, with 750 volts of electricity
  • Reminder comes during Rail Safety Week, an industry wide and industry led initiative focusing on rail safety for all
  • Those illegally trespassing on the electrified tracks put themselves and others in danger

SWR is marking Rail Safety Week with a reminder of how to stay safe on the Island Line.

Station staff and train drivers have recently reported instances of trespassing on the railway, which is illegal and can result in court action and a £1,000 fine.

Not only is trespassing on the railway illegal, it is also extremely dangerous. Anyone using the Island Line should do the following to stay safe:

  • Listen to instructions from railway staff
  • Pay attention to signs and notices
  • Not cross the yellow line on station platforms unless they are boarding a train
  • Not go beyond platform end boards
  • Not deviate from dedicated crossing points
  • Dial 999 or speak to a member of railway staff if they see someone trespassing or injured

Trespassing anywhere on the railway network is extremely dangerous. On the Island Line, recent timetable changes mean more trains are running, further increasing the dangers.

There is also the risk of electrocution from the Island Line’s third rail, which is powered 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, with 750 volts of electricity – enough to cause serious injury or worse.

Jane Lupson, SWR’s Director of Safety and Security said,

“Rail Safety Week is a good opportunity to remind everyone that the railway can be a dangerous place if they don’t follow the rules. The Island Line is no different to the majority of our lines on the mainland, with a lot of trains running and a third rail powered with 750 volts of electricity 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.

“Because of all of these risks, no one apart from authorised railway staff should be accessing the track, because if they do, they put themselves and others in danger. We appreciate everyone’s co-operation in keeping customers, visitors and our colleagues safe.”

In 2020, Network Rail created a video to raise awareness of the risks of trespass on the railway.

‘Tegan’s Story’ highlights the events that took place in the summer of 2018 when 16-year-old Tegan almost died at Bournemouth station as she tried to cross the tracks. Her story remains as relevant today as it was then, with Tegan lucky to have survived.

The video can be viewed here: Tegan's Story | Network Rail - Trespassing series - YouTube

The public should dial 999 or speak to a member of railway staff immediately if they see someone trespassing on the railway. If someone is injured, again, alert staff or dial 999. They should not touch the casualty or put themselves at risk.

To raise awareness of the risks, posters have been placed in all Island Line stations.

The current running through the rail on Island Line is supplied by Network Rail and is controlled from Eastleigh on the mainland.

What happens if you are electrocuted?

  • Electricity seeks the easiest path to the ground from wherever it starts. The human body is around 60% water, so people are potentially very good conductors.
  • Coming into contact with a 750-volt rail can be deadly. The effect on the body includes:
    - Tissue burns beneath the skin causing scarring and black marks on the surface.
    - The muscles in your heart fail – stopping the flow of blood and oxygen.
    - Lungs and respiratory system are paralysed.
  • The body’s nervous system – which relies on tiny electrical impulses to function – is disrupted, causing paralysis and affecting your ability to think, respond and remember.
  • The heat passing through the human body causes severe damage to internal organs.