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Chicken game could kill a child

PUBLISHED: 14:35 21 February 2002 | UPDATED: 11:24 03 March 2010

YOUNGSTERS are putting their lives on the line by playing chicken on the Felixstowe-Ipswich rail track - and parents were today warned that a child could be killed.

YOUNGSTERS are putting their lives on the line by playing chicken on the Felixstowe-Ipswich rail track – and parents were today warned that a child could be killed.

Children as young as nine have been seen dashing in front of approaching passenger and freight trains, getting across the tracks just in time.

British Transport Police today said those playing the dangerous game have been en route to and from school and want parents to make sure their children know the hazards.

They fear that it will not be long before a tragedy happens, unless mums and dads and schools help get the message across.

"Train drivers have reported children between the ages of about nine and 11 playing chicken on the line," said Sergeant Bob Munn, of the BTP.

"The trains – both the passenger and the freight ones – are usually closer than they think. Children that young do not usually have much sense either of the speed of an approaching train.

"When a train hits you, you don't survive – you don't have any chance.

"It's an enormously heavy, fast-moving object, and you would just be crushed.

"My worry is that someone will be killed playing these games and running across the line and we need to make them aware of the danger now.

"It will just take someone to fall over as they are dashing across or get their foot stuck in a rail and that will be it."

Children going to and from Causton Junior and Orwell High schools use the public foot crossing at Runnacles Way to get across the 12-mile Felixstowe-Ipswich line as a short-cut to the playing fields at the rear of the schools.

Used properly, the crossing on the edge of the housing estate is perfectly safe.

"The way they are using it at the moment is like playing chicken on the A14 – and no-one would do that. They are leaving it until the last minute and then dashing across," said Sgt Munn.

"There is good visibility and the children should take their time to look up and down the line to make sure there are no trains in sight and that they can hear no trains coming. If there is a train, wait.

"If they are in any doubt they should not risk it. If they are five minutes late for school, then so be it – better that than dead.

"When they are sure they there are no trains they should cross carefully and quickly."

The BT Police are contacting the schools in the area and Railtrack to see if the children can be given a safety talk. BT Police are also going to visit the crossing at times when children are most likely to use it to give advice.

There have been similar problems in the past, and also more than a dozen incidents in the past four years of youngsters trying to de-rail trains by placing items such as wood, a metal spike covered with a tarpaulin, concrete lumps, bikes and shopping trolleys placed on the tracks.

Freight traffic on the line is increasing and there is also an hourly passenger train service.

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