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Mumsnetters share how they teach their children about rail safety with Network Rail

150 replies

LucyBMumsnet · 27/08/2020 10:47

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From choosing the right time to get their full attention to finding the right way to teach them how to be safe without creating fear, talking to our children about safety can be a difficult task. As a parent, you’ll do anything to keep your child out of harm’s way, including making them aware of certain risks in the big wide world and how to be safe in those situations.

Network Rail has launched a campaign in partnership with Thomas and Friends to help parents broach the subject of rail safety with their children in a gentle way. Network Rail would love to learn how you are teaching them to be safe when out and about.

Here’s what the Network Rail has to say: ^“Our research* tells us that only half of parents with young children talk to their children about rail safety, compared to road safety where almost all parents have discussed it. We know that it can be a difficult subject to bring up with young children, which is why we have produced the Stay Safe With Thomas book as it allows parents to have that conversation in a gentle way. Parents can download a free copy by visiting”^

So, we’re asking you how do you teach your children about safety when out and about? Where does rail safety fit on your list of topics to teach them about? Which books or other educational materials do you use to help you talk about safety with your DC? Do you worry about your children’s safety when travelling without you? What are your greatest concerns when travelling with your children by train?

No matter how you encourage your children to be safe when it comes to using the railway, share on the thread below and everyone will be entered into a prize draw where one MNer will win a £100 voucher of their choice (from a list).

Thanks and good luck with the prize draw.

Standard Insight T&Cs Apply

*Research conducted by Mumsnet in April 2020 amongst 611 parents with at least one child aged 3 to 6.

Mumsnetters share how they teach their children about rail safety with Network Rail
OP posts:
LulworthBlues · 27/08/2020 12:56

To be honest now you have mentioned it, I am not sure I specifically covered this topic with my child. I suppose it was ad-hoc - stand back behind the yellow line, the level crossing barrier is there for a reason, stand back from the door - those types of things. It was very much in the moment teaching.

sheilads105 · 27/08/2020 17:05

I have always held my kids hands when crossing the road. I've got them to press crossing buttons and talked about what the 'green man' means. I have chatted about road safety and about where and when to cross roads. I've used picture books to help with this. For railways, we've crossed at level crossings on foot and chatted about the warning sounds before the barriers come down. I guess that showing them in practical ways when out and about beats merely talking about these subjects.

voyager50 · 27/08/2020 19:37

I can still remember the films shown in schools in the 80s about the dangers of playing near trains - if they had similar campaigns like this in schools these days it may make a big difference.

Only a couple of days ago my friend saw teenage girls laying on the tracks at a pedestrian crossing on the railway - they only moved when they saw a train then went back again.

I have always told mine about not standing at the edge of a platform and explained how dangerous it is and he understands that even if he sees someone else on the track it doesn't mean he is allowed to - I may even see if I can find those old 80s videos online to show him.

MumC2141 · 27/08/2020 21:53

I don’t think we have a lot, probably only on the rare occasion we have taken a train or crossed at a level crossing.

BristolMum96 · 28/08/2020 11:15

I just discuss rail safety with my child on the day we use the train. They know not to wander off, head close to the platform, and generally stay with me and not muck around. My youngest must hold my hand at all times

BellaVida · 28/08/2020 12:17

When my DC were younger, we stressed the importance of staying behind the lines and well away from the edge of the platform, minding the gaps between the train/ platform and other things, such as never putting arms/heads out of windows or leaning against doors. Out and about in the car, we always talked about never playing on or near railway lines, respecting the lights/gates on crossings and the dangers of open crossings. Some of these messages have also been reinforced by subjects at school and their clubs. I feel confident they know about rail safety. Me eldest DS used to love Thomas the Tank Engine, so the new book would have been a great resource to use.

Asuwere · 28/08/2020 13:37

Surely the fact that "only half of parents with young children talk to their children about rail safety, compared to road safety where almost all parents have discussed it" is because most people will cross roads daily with children whereas only use railways with children occasionally so isn't as relevant.
My youngest child has never been on a train so we haven't discussed railway safety at all. With my older DC, we've discussed safety as necessary, so hold hands and check carefully when we used a level crossing. Stay behind line, hold hand when at a railway station.

Ashhead24 · 28/08/2020 14:28

We haven't talked about rail safety but i think we've only ever been on a train with the DC once. I guess we'd broach it if we went on a train again but I can't see that being likely any time soon.

ilovemydogandMrObama · 28/08/2020 15:14

We are frequent train users, but while safety is serious, we have come up with a rhyme - Don't be a plonker, don't stick your head out the window to see a conker..' (DS11)

badlydrawnbear · 28/08/2020 15:45

We rarely go on trains, but have covered holding my hand and waiting behind the yellow line when at the train station. I remember the campaign when I was in primary school with a video about the dangers of playing on train tracks. I have never discussed this with my children, as we don't live near train tracks (although nor did I when I was at primary school) so they wouldn't be able to go and play on any.
I have taught them road safety by modelling the correct behaviour and discussing it: stop, look and listen, use the green man and wait even if there is no traffic and be aware that the emergency vehicle you can hear won't stop at the red light, don't cross between parked cars, use the zebra crossing but still check the cars are stopping before you step on to the road, don't use your ipod near the road, wear cycle helmets.
At the moment my biggest concern about them travelling by train without me when older would probably be the other passengers, including their peers and peer pressure to do something stupid or unwanted attention from male passengers, sadly.

1304togo · 28/08/2020 15:57

We've got a book (a story book but with safety messages in it, it's not very subtle!) that they read, too young to fully understand but the stuff about the green man, etc and looking left, right left, is still good to get in early.

1304togo · 28/08/2020 15:58

sorry hit send too soon!

I meant to add, that was a road safety book we got. But we haven't taught them anything about rail safety at all. There is a page about a railway crossing in the road safety book (waiting for the barrier to go up and lighs/beeping to stop) but it's probably lost on them.

I hadn't thought much about rail safety before today, it's always been cars/roads. Maybe time to explore it a bit on the back of this thread.

UnicornsForLife · 28/08/2020 16:11

I speak to my dd about train safety as we are waiting for a train, such as stand away from the line, don't wander off. Now there is also put your mask on and don't forget to use sanitizer.

PashleyB · 28/08/2020 17:11

We talk a lot about standing behind the line to get on the train and when we have been on a train being extra careful about the big gap to step across. But as others have said it's a fairly rare occurrence to get on a train with the children so I've not drilled it into my two

Theimpossiblegirl · 28/08/2020 17:20

What a great book. Rail Safety is part of the RSHE Curriculum (old PSHE) so I'll be using this in school.

I travelled with my DDs by train regularly and we live in an area where many footpaths cross railways lines, so teaching them rail safety was as important as road safety.

Decentsalnotime · 28/08/2020 17:24

* So, we’re asking you how do you teach your children about safety when out and about? Where does rail safety fit on your list of topics to teach them about? Which books or other educational materials do you use to help you talk about safety with your DC? Do you worry about your children’s safety when travelling without you? What are your greatest concerns when travelling with your children by train*

We get the train a lot.
My greatest concern is that they start messing around and stumble as train approaching. So I have then either side of me and ensure holding hands.

We talk about the danger

Oddly enough I will worry more when teenagers. Stories of teens messing around and then being killed. So important they understand dangers now

pinkpetal2 · 28/08/2020 17:25

I've always drilled this in to mine as we live next to a train line. Always told them you don't go anywhere near a train at all and always stay behind the yellow line. When we use trains I always make them stand with their back against the wall as the train is approaching and whilst waiting.
Last year my DD who had ADHD was getting over excited about the train and jumped over the yellow line,
so I shouted to get back before the train came in and took her head off.
(I know it was over the top I was scared) a conductor on the platform said he wished more parents would speak like that to make children aware of the dangers. Shock

Whatdowehaveherethen · 28/08/2020 17:42

My DS's don't have the best idea of how to stay safe when out and about. They're 5 and 8. Especially my 8 year old who would mistake a pavement for the road given a few seconds if releasing his hand.

That said, they are big train enthusiasts. We've encouraged it by buying them books about trains and letting them watch YouTube videos. They now know how dangerous it can be just by watching how a train works internally. They're particularly interested in the 3rd rail and overhead lines as this is where the power comes from.

I've made a point of showing them near-misses at crossings.

I can honestly say I'd rather leave them at a train station than let go of their hands on a pavement.

Chesneyhawkes1 · 28/08/2020 19:08

I wish more parents would, especially not playing chicken with trains or running across the tracks so they don't miss a train.

I always make a point of explaining to them when they do it that I don't want to be the one to kill them. And I'm sure whoever they live with, doesn't want that knock on the door. They always apologise and say they won't do it again. But I'm sure they don't mean it.

Also the rail is electrified in some areas. So if a train doesn't get them, that might.

BeneathTheMilkyTwilight · 28/08/2020 19:22

We talk about where to stand safely on the platform, how to board safely, behave safely on the train and how to use level crossings. A woman was sadly killed at a crossing in my town and someone I know lost their life through sticking their head out of the window, so it's an issue I want to be very clear about with my family.

Pimmsypimms · 28/08/2020 19:51

Ds is 7 and we have never talked about rail safety as we have no train lines near us and we never travel by train. We also aren't near a bus route so he hasn't been on a bus many times either.
He does mention the train though and I think he'd love a train journey so it might be a good opportunity to plan a train journey and then have the conversion about safety on public transport.

MrsMaglev · 28/08/2020 20:06

We used to take DC1 on the train to get to nursery every day and safety never figured much. Keep behind the yellow lines is one I can remember telling him, and taking care when getting off or on the train. Interested to see the TtTE stuff, I can remember being terrified of the network rail booklets illustrated by Quentin Crisp at primary school!


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vickibee · 28/08/2020 20:30

My son loves this rail safety message even though it is Australian. He plays it over and over.
This first sparked a discussion re safety. Think kids engage well with this type of thing
SoloMummy · 28/08/2020 20:44

Where we live, we have rural lines, that some don't have barriers, so I have always explained that whatever happens if the lights are red you don't cross the train lines. We've also practiced crossing safely, in one go, no dawdling etc.
Sadly there have been a number of of crossing accidents locally over the years so have tried to address the issues.
Our particular area also has what was the world's smallest railway. So it complicates things as this is seen as a fun activity, so making sure when watching it pass that safety is adhered to is definitely more challenging. Especially as people are often waving etc.
Probably I have not educated my child though about how to behave at railways as we have only been on mainline trains a couple of times so I do need to do this.
I am also sure that I have omitted many other basics too.
I will certainly start with the Thomas book as a discussion point.

DennisTMenace · 28/08/2020 21:59

I don't go on a train with both kids by myself as the youngest is a runner who won't hold hands. The oldest is very good at standing behind the yellow line, holding hands to get on and off etc. When I was young there was a rail safety book illustrated by Quentin Blake, with a picture saying stick your head out the window and it won't come back. That always stuck with me, so I do agree rail safety books for kids work.

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