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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:
user1495884620 · 28/08/2020 22:34

We always told ours the (true) story of a family member who was waiting for a train and put his bag down in front of him a bit too close to the edge of the platform. A fast train came through the station without stopping and the bag was whooshed away by the train never to be seen again.

SteakExpectations · 28/08/2020 22:42

The game Dumb Ways to Die with its catchy song was a good opener to speak to my DS about the dangers of playing on/crossing train lines.

We catch trains regularly and so teaching him how to be safe on a platform happened naturally as part of the process.

PeaceAndHarmoneeee · 29/08/2020 08:09

I talk to mine about safety things as we are on the platform and in the train as we travel together. So reminding them there's a big gap between the train and platform when they step down, that the rails may be electric so you cannot stand on them etc.

I've spoken to the eldest - as he plays out- about not playing on or near tracks whilst we were speeding along on a train as it brought home to him how fast the trains go and what would happen if someone was hit by a train.

Smile13 · 29/08/2020 08:45

When we’ve been to rail stations which hasn’t been very often, twice a year we’ve talked to our children about keeping away from the edge of platforms. Holding on to banisters walking down the steep staircases and never ever walking on to tracks. I hope with the sense of fear I’ve had at stations this has rubbed off on them but will talk about it more now that they are older and understand more.

justoffshift · 29/08/2020 08:50

So, we’re asking you how do you teach your children about safety when out and about?
Go through the motions when at a traffic crossing etc.
Where does rail safety fit on your list of topics to teach them about? Not too high as we use the car to cross any rail crossings, however if we walked near one we would talk about it.
Which books or other educational materials do you use to help you talk about safety with your DC? None, maybe a news article.
Do you worry about your children’s safety when travelling without you? They are too young to travel without adult supervision.
What are your greatest concerns when travelling with your children by train? That we would be the victims of an unprovoked attack.

fishnships · 29/08/2020 09:13

We love travelling by train and it is always a positive experience. On the local trains we try to sit at the front so there is interest in the journey, poining out the signals, points and depot and looking out for the stations. Safety is talked about as part of that, so its a case of the children being made aware of the speed of the train, keeping away from the track (easier now as lines are painted on the platforms) and being careful of the gap when they get on and off.

ProfYaffle · 29/08/2020 09:23

I'm old enough to remember those public information films at school - the Finishing Line really stuck in my mind! I've never specifically talked to my dc about not going onto railway lines but kids don't roam unsupervised for hours like they did back then.

Dumb Ways to Die made a huge impact on my dc, they loved it and the rail safety message sank in that way.

Platform safety is probably more relevant, dh and I vividly remember being sat on a train platform while a family let their tiny dc run about near the edge. We were horrified.

To be honest though, we didn't really use the trains when our dc were small enough to worry about in that sense because our local station and rolling stock weren't remotely accessible. It was far too difficult when trying to manage with a pram and a toddler, especially if dh wasn't around. Easier, safer and cheaper to use the car!

Haloevera · 29/08/2020 09:37

I tell my children about how we used to set/up camp alongside the railway line when young. Of coutures I quickly tell them they should do no such thing. Actually I expect it would be impossible now.
Platform safety is something I talk a lot about with them, because I am terrified of high speed trains and their drag. I have taught them to be sensible, responsible and to take care.

Aroundtheworldin80moves · 29/08/2020 10:13

I've never formally taught them about rail safety, but like a lot of things it has been taught on the go as required.
Level crossings- watching the lights/barriers, listening and looking for trains as a back up, not cycling across when wet (my DB broke his arm as an adult crossing tram lines on a bike when wet).
Stations- staying behind the yellow line, no running, no messing
Getting on and off the train- watching what they are doing, waiting for a parents help if necessary.
Not sticking anything out of windows.
Also what to do if seperated on the train or at the station. I got left behind as a 10yo at Kings Cross- pre mobile. Apparently the whole situation was made easier by me doing the right thing and immediately alerting an adult (who quickly attracted the attention of station staff, who communicated with train).

BlackeyedSusan · 29/08/2020 10:44

we talked about this on holiday in Barmouth as you have to cross the tracks so many times just getting from the seaside to the town.

I am super cautious as the cousin of a child I knew was killed on the railway.

LEELULUMPKIN · 29/08/2020 11:43

Ex Railway here and DH is a Train Driver and Instructor.

DS has had rail safety drilled into him VERY early on.

Decentsalnotime · 29/08/2020 12:05


What sort of things have you said?

EngTech · 29/08/2020 15:24

Teenagers playing chicken 😳

I think they expect the train to “swerve” around them or stop on a sixpence !

Pre teens get the message but peer pressure plays a big part once they get to a certain age

My approach is simple, the train wins every time 😔

Lemming20 · 29/08/2020 15:43

Mine are only small but I make it very clear that going near roads trains etc will give them an extremely bad ‘boo boo’. We also make the older one wave to cars as they go past and explain cars are to be respected and not gone near (even when stationary).

caz123456 · 29/08/2020 16:10

I don't think it is something I specifically taught them like I taught road safety. It was more likely when we were at train stations which wasn't often explaining to keep stood back from the yellow lines and to never go onto the track.

TellMeItsNotTrue · 29/08/2020 18:07

Starts from a young age, at first in a buggy and talking to them about what we are doing and why, basically narrating, then on reins explaining why they have to stay close, not go by the road, stand back at train station etc. Only when they are doing all that did I progress to holding hands and finally letting them stand/walk by me without holding on

At home we would play with their cars/trains/dolls etc and mention it then and they would make sure the doll was safe etc

KANNET · 29/08/2020 19:25

My son is a huge Thomas fan so we have used that. Look how fast Thomas goes, wow you must never go on a track he could hit you

sharond101 · 29/08/2020 19:50

Mine are 8 & 5 and I could count on 1 hand the number of times they have been on a train so it hasn't been talked about in depth. Now though, I probably will mention it!

ColdCottage · 29/08/2020 20:34

When going to the train station we have talked about how fast the trains go and keeping back from the edge behind the line.

When out in the car I've explained why we stop when the lights and sirens go off and what they mean. How not only the trains but the lines can kill. I don't believe in sugar coating these things but using age appropriate language to explain the risks and what could happen.

Ashton08 · 29/08/2020 20:46

Hey guys, I have always spoken to my children about rail safety when we started going train spotting, we watched Thomas the Tank Engine and I explained the safety of trains and staying away from the platform 🚉

NotMeNoNo · 29/08/2020 21:14

I work in construction and have done a lot of safety training including railway track training. The children have a healthy interest in transport and construction but have had a strong message not to mess around on construction sites, roads or railways. Fortunately railway property is well fenced these days. We have a tramline near us and I worried they would hang around with idiots and throw sticks at the overhead lines but fortunately it doesn't seem to be a thing. I have a few parenting fails but safety does have a high profile in our house.

minisoksmakehardwork · 29/08/2020 22:27

I haven't specifically had this discussion, more ongoing guidance when we are one train stations about how and why, being mindful of the the edge etc.

But I do recall an (awesome to my child-mind) booklet I got given either at school or by my dad who worked on the railway then. I think it was maybe written by roald Dahl and was definitely illustrated by Quentin Blake.

My overriding memory of that booklet was what might happen if you stuck your head out of a train window...

I've often wondered if that book is still available as I think it would appeal to my kids.

burwellmum · 29/08/2020 22:54

We get the train occasionally. I have been most concerned about an accident as a train passes through or draws into a platform and always explain the dangers and enforce staying next to me well back. We do have rural lines near us and I have to be honest I have never discussed the dangers of them.

manybirdsnests · 29/08/2020 23:12

My hypersensitive ds seemed to have an in-built fear of vehicles, including making journeys by train, so for me it was more a question of encouraging him!

He's a bit better now he's a teen, but still particularly hates travelling by tube Hmm

caravandreamer · 30/08/2020 04:35

I have always been honest with my kids aged 5-12yrs and gave them a straight answer = you go onto train tracks you get electrocuted, squashed and killed. Sometimes you have to be honest and make them fear doing it to protect them. I make sure they stand and walk as close to the wall on platforms to avoid being 'shoved' by crowds and falling onto tracks (seen too many videos online of it happening at busy stations !!) If making them fear tracks keeps them safe then I'll keep repeating it everytime we go past the tracks or visit a train station.

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