The Chairman of Somerset & Dorset Joint Railway has written a letter of concern to The Journal, explaining the dangers of walking on the railway tracks. This follows a recent incident where children made their way onto the heritage line in Midsomer Norton.

A few Sundays ago, prior to the Whitsun Bank Holiday, a group of four children was found walking along the railway line at the station in Midsomer Norton towards a train that was driving up the line. 

The train was halted and the horn sounded repeatedly and the young people fled the scene, through the fence and down through the fields. The incident was reported to the Police.

Whilst we are sure they meant no harm and no one was hurt, this was an act of trespass and could have had a different outcome if they had not been spotted in a timely manner. Naturally, we are very concerned from a safety point of view.

We very much welcome visitors to the station, that is why we run the trains after all, but, even though it is a Heritage Railway, it is still a REAL railway, with all the dangers that brings:

Railway vehicles are heavy and take a long time to stop; the faster they are going, the longer it takes to stop;

In wet weather, both the rails and the sleepers can be very slippery and it would be easy to fall and hurt yourself;

People working on the railway wear orange high-vis jackets for a reason – so that they can be seen. Small children walking along the line are not easily visible;

There are many tripping hazards and sharp objects around the site and this is one of the reasons why the public is not allowed beyond the end of the platforms.

We want everyone to be able to enjoy the railway from the safety of the train or whilst walking along the footpath. With the summer holidays fast approaching, we would urge everyone, young and old, to adhere to the theme of the advert of some years ago: ‘KEEP OFF THE TRACKS’. 

Our main priority is the safety of both our visitors and our staff.

Railways can be dangerous places and certainly not places to play or take shortcuts.

Matt Cornborough, Company Chairman, Somerset & Dorset Joint Railway Company Limited