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Northgate pupils dice with death by taking short cut across rail line

PUBLISHED: 14:18 07 November 2017 | UPDATED: 14:19 07 November 2017

Children dangerously crossing railway tracks beneath Colchester Road. Picture: CONTRIBUTED

Children dangerously crossing railway tracks beneath Colchester Road. Picture: CONTRIBUTED

Students from one of the largest schools in Ipswich have been putting themselves at risk by taking a shortcut across one of the busiest rail lines in town.

The line is used by 33 freight trains a day. Picture: CONTRIBUTEDThe line is used by 33 freight trains a day. Picture: CONTRIBUTED

Seven youngsters who all appeared to be wearing Northgate High School uniforms were spotted crossing the main line from Ipswich to Felixstowe near the Colchester Road bridge.

They were seen by workers from Ipswich council who took this picture showing four of the youngsters scrambling across the track.

The single-track line is used by the hourly passenger trains between Ipswich and Felixstowe and by 33 huge freight trains heading to and from Britain’s busiest container port.

The maximum speed on the line is 75 miles an hour and the area where the children were crossing is on a curve which would make it impossible for a train to stop in time if it was bearing down on them.

The picture shocked officials at Network Rail, the government-owned body that owns and runs rail infrastructure.

Richard Tew, Network Rail’s head of safety for Anglia, said: “The children in this photo are incredibly lucky as they crossed the tracks unscathed, but sadly there are people who have not been as fortunate.

“It may seem harmless to take a shortcut, or fun to play on the tracks, but this is not only illegal, it is also very dangerous. Taking a shortcut or messing around on the tracks can result in serious life-changing injuries or death.”

A spokesman for Ipswich Borough Council said: “Our staff were shocked when we saw this group of children running across the railway line. We want to get the message out there that this is potentially extremely dangerous.”

Northgate headteacher David Hutton said: “It is very disappointing to learn that these children have behaved in such a reckless fashion, especially given a recent focus in school through assemblies and tutor group discussions about staying safe outside of school.

“We will be working closely with the British Transport Police to identify the individuals involved, so that together we can make sure that they and their families are fully aware of the potentially fatal nature of their thoughtless action.

“Once we know the full extent of each individual’s involvement we shall also apply sanctions where appropriate.

“Fortunately, on this occasion no harm came to the children involved. By drawing this incident to the attention of their peers we can hopefully avoid any future reoccurrence.”

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