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Emma Gilchrist, Managing Director of Motion Rail, has recognised the need to use emerging technology to educate rail workers and children around Rail Safety. 

In 2016/17 there were 39 fatalities, excluding suicides, on railways. 6 of these were workforce and 33 were public fatalities, mainly from trespassers and level crossings. There were 164 major and 5,676 minor injuries to the workforce. 70% of adult believe it is safe to cross a level crossing when the barriers are down, if no train is coming and over 28% believe crossing a motorway is more dangerous than crossing a railway, even though trains are unable to stop quickly, or change direction. 

Emma approached CEMET with and idea to utilise Virtual Reality (VR) to enhance their workforce training programme and to educate children about  the dangers of playing on railway tracks. There are two sections to this programme. One assists in the training of on-site rail workers, who are responsible for correctly placing lookouts when carrying out track repairs. The second educates Primary School children how to safely negotiate both a level and foot crossing. 

The aim of this project is to increase awareness and reduce incidents by making the workforce aware of the appropriate amount of time needed to move out of the way when a train is approaching, giving them a real time scenario in a safe environment. This ensures compliance and saves lives. Additionally, the project educates children and the next generation of railway users, and potential trespassers, about the danger of the railway and the appropriate way of negotiating level and foot crossings.

Network Rail have endorsed the Virtual Reality scenario that educates children while Pulsar are sponsoring them to attend schools in order to ensure children’s safety on the railway.  

Andy Thomas, managing director of England and Wales at Network Rail said: “Britain has one of the safest railways in Europe but we cannot be complacent. As the railway continues to get busier, we must continue to work hard to make sure young people are aware of the dangers that exist on and near the tracks.

“We’re proud to be at the forefront of innovation in the rail industry, so it’s fantastic to be working with Motion Rail, and supporting their delivery of virtual reality safety sessions in schools. By engaging with young people early, we can raise awareness of rail safety, and help keep the communities we serve safe.