Watch: Dramatic near-miss of Downhill tunnel trespassers

Translink has repeatedly warned of the dangers of trespassing on the rail line. INLS 40-790-CON
Translink has repeatedly warned of the dangers of trespassing on the rail line. INLS 40-790-CON

Dramatic footage of two pedestrians wandering off the beach and into the tunnel at Downhill features in a new Translink campaign warning of the dangers of rail line trespassing.

The serious near-miss incident shows the moment the lifeguard on duty spots the trespassers and can be seen dressed in hi-vis clothing, waving to alert the train driver.

When the locomotive enters the tunnel the CCTV picks up the pedestrians on the left of the tunnel where they escaped being hit and miraculously only receive some scratches.

Between the beginning of April and the end of August this year there have been 304 recorded incidents of pedestrian trespass with almost 50 of those taking place on the Londonderry line.

One of these involved a train driver having to make an emergency brake application when he saw three children sitting on the middle of the tracks. The children ran off but the driver was left extremely shaken.

Mark Atkinson, head of Civil Engineering at Translink, said: “There are obviously serious risks associated with trespassing on the rail network-life changing injuries or even death. Our trains travel at speeds of up to 90 miles per hour and if a driver has to apply the emergency brakes, it will take over 900 metres for the train to stop. In other words, not even the fastest athlete on the planet could outrun a train.

“During holiday periods, incidents of pedestrian trespass on the rail network unfortunately often increase. The network can look like a handy shortcut or a good place to play, but the risks are just not worth it.

Aside from the very obvious risks to life and wellbeing associated with trespass, every time we receive reports of pedestrians on the rail network, we have to apply a ‘caution’ or speed restriction of 5 mph to trains operating in the area until we are assured that the area is clear. This results in delays to services and impacts our passengers.”

Translink works closely with PSNI neighbourhood policing teams to identify and prosecute trespassers.

“We would appeal to parents, guardians and teachers to remind young people in their care to never use the tracks as a shortcut or a playground.”

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