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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:
ButterflyOfFreedom · 30/08/2020 08:04

Every time we've been to a train station I make sure we talk about the dangers around us. Tell them things like keep behind the line, not too near the edge, never play on tea on tracks etc.
We talk about the speed of trains, how big & loud they are, and don't hold back in saying if you got hit by one, it'd be game over.
We also talk about safety on the tea on such as not leaning out of windows etc.
It's really important to discuss these things.

TolstoyAteMyHamster · 30/08/2020 08:30

Their grandmother was a nurse in rural Ohio and tells them horror stories about rail accidents she treated, which seems to have done the trick - they know to stand well back, not lean out of the window etc. And they do enjoy looking at the safety notices when we get on a train and discussing those with me.

MakeTeaNotWar · 30/08/2020 15:08

It's not been a massive priority for us as we mostly drive but when we have been at the station, I am on tenterhooks should they get too close to the yellow line on the platform, esp when a train whizzes past. They know not to stick heads or limbs out of the windows of moving vehicles

DonLewis · 30/08/2020 15:11

Whenever we travel by train we have the rail safety conversation. It's a natural thing to do, when the need arises.
I'm always so worried about the gap! And small people falling down the gap, so much so, the kids have nicknamed me the gap police! Grin

modzy78 · 30/08/2020 15:13

We lived in London when my daughter was born and still use the train at times. So she's had ideas of rail safety since she was a baby. I talked about what I was doing while maneuvering the stroller on and off. When she was older, I focused on staying with me, holding my hand, and holding onto poles if no seats are available. As she's gotten older, I've also allowed her to take a bit more of a lead in getting tickets and navigating stations to prepare her for independent travel. I think rail and road safety need to develop naturally through practical experiences.

Larnipoo · 30/08/2020 15:52

We always play uno on train journeys. TBH my son loves the whole adventure of getting the train and listening to all the announcements.

lolly2011 · 30/08/2020 21:18

Stay behind the yellow line, if you get lost find a transport worker and ask for help. Try to find a seat on the train if not find somewhere to hold on.

wellingtonsandwaffles · 31/08/2020 07:26

We teach safety as we are out and about and the relevant situation arises - we go on trains far less hence fewer learning opportunities but also less risk.

Strangeways19 · 31/08/2020 09:40

The main thing on a train is to get on it safely, stay together, if a long journey how to navigate to the toilet with or without child should you need to go. Keeping them occupied during the journey is always a plus. Train journeys are always so stressful with young children, they don't always understand why they have to sit down for so long!

allthingsred · 31/08/2020 16:14

There's a level crossing 5 min's away from where we live. So as the kids were growing they learnt about rail safety just as much as road.
When younger hearing the bells & lights was exciting cause it means the train is coming & whole we waited we would wave hello to the people on board.
My ds always got excited by getting a wave off the conductor/ driver back. (We live near a steam train)
We travelled a lot on trains to visit family to so learnt to stand well back on the platform when trains were arriving/departing etc

ConquestEmpireHungerPlague · 31/08/2020 16:25

I'm one of the generation of kids who were shown The Finishing Line at school, which was withdrawn before long because it was so traumatising! My kids are older now and we watched it on YouTube a while ago. They weren't as appalled as they probably should have been but only because the blood and injuries depicted were a bit hokey to their CGI-jaded eyes. We were shown some terrible stuff at school tbh. When I try to explain to my kids what 70s safety campaigns were like I show them the Scarfolk website, which seems to have the tone about right.

Anyway, I digress. I grew up near a railway line and I'm well aware of the stupid things kids get up to when their parents aren't around, especially when they've been told in no uncertain terms not to, so I always tried to be matter-of-fact about safety and consequences of recklessness, rather than laying it on with a trowel and making it seem dramatic and exciting to trespass on the railway or get trapped in the doors of a closing train. I've always been evangelical about teaching them first aid as well, including first aid around electricity.

Trains themselves are much safer than they were - no jumping on or off moving ones as we did back in the day or sticking your head out of the windows to catch the breeze in summer. It's a wonder we survived, really. Amused by some of the previous posts, which mainly seem hung up on safe toilet usage, although that's very important too, of course. Confused

AltheaThoon · 31/08/2020 19:56

Before lockdown we used to catch the train into town quite frequently so there was always the opportunity to speak to my child about standing behind the line at all times. We've also discussed that you should never, ever walk into a railway line to retrieve something. We've been at crossings when the light has turned red and we've talked about how we must always stop, whether in the car or on foot, and not try to squeeze through.

With my older children I've discussed how they can discreetly text the British Transport Police if they are ever fearful for their safety or the safety of others whilst travelling on a train.

The one fear I have about rail travel is the tube in London. We don't live anywhere near London and we've never taken the children on the tube but the thought of the doors closing before they're all on scares me to death. Again, we've discussed that if this ever were to happen they must get off at the next stop and find a member of staff for help.

mummyuk86 · 31/08/2020 21:54

We have an open railway line near our house so we regularly go down to see the trains come pass as my youngest loves trains. As we go regularly they know to stand way back from the line and that we can only cross when there's green light. When the light is red they know they must not cross.

AveAtqueVale · 31/08/2020 23:19

I don't think we've talked about rail safety much. They used to cross a level crossing daily on the walk to and from school with their childminder though, so I'm sure she'll have talked about it with them. I know I've chatted once or twice about never trying to make it through closing barriers etc, but there aren't any level crossings near us any more so we definitely focus a lot more on road safety.

torthecatlady · 31/08/2020 23:35

Tbh, rail safety isn't something we have really spoken much about Blush Ds knows about standing behind the line and not to mess around on the platform, but that's it really.

Letsleepingdogslie8 · 01/09/2020 07:54

We were given a Thomas the Tank book like the one in the picture. It was really effective and my DS often mentions it as we go over level crossing.

79lauren79 · 01/09/2020 09:55

We have that book and have had a high level conversation. We've discussed level crossings which she took an interest in so we visited a local one and discussed the safety aspects while walking across it. She's only 4 so not sure how much she understands yet.

tobypercy · 01/09/2020 18:00

We used the original Thomas books as a starting point. There is always someone doing something they shouldn't! That, and explaining that mum was late home from work because of trespassers on the track, and how much trouble that causes.

CottonHeadedNinyMuggins · 01/09/2020 19:03

My mum always told me and the kids about the time when she was crossing the level crossing in our town center as a kid in the 60's. She was with her aunty and they weren't playing silly buggers -there just happened to be a fault that day. The barrier came down too soon and trapped her the wrong side with my aunty on the 'right side'. Aunty freaked out which made my mum freak too as she was about 8 and she literally clung to her , pinning hr against the barrier with her as the train whipped past.

She didn't skimp at all about how scared she was and it has really set it in stone in my mind and (hopefully!) the kids not to mess about around trains when either crossing the level crossing or using them themselves. It also helps that we live at the end of a line which has helped give us more time to look properly at the platforms and the dangers of getting too close and playing up.

The quieter stations during post-lockdown when we've visited family have helped too. Usually it's absolutely rammed and people everywhere pushing and shoving which is quite scary when you're small (also when you're big!) and usually a few drunk people around which is also concerning. Now it's been quiter without quite so much rush to get on the train the kids are more relaxed and able to take it in more and understand the rules for their own safety.

Punkatheart · 01/09/2020 19:33

This is a really pertinent point because I don't think I ever talked tommy child about rail safety - although I think I discussed when children were killed when trespassing on railways. I do always stress that it's important to stand well away from the edge/behind white lines.

Duckyneedsaclean · 01/09/2020 22:21

This post has made me realise that I haven't spoken to my younger children about rail safety, except in a reactionary way. I suppose because we rarely get a train - but it's definitely an eye opener. A book would be a great way to introduce the subject.

sallyshirt · 01/09/2020 23:51

There's a rural rail crossing very near to my home. My Ds and I sit in the car/or stand by the crossing fairly frequently waiting to cross. We treat it like if we were crossing a road, holding hands, looking both ways several times as the trains whip along so quickly.

WilmaJean · 02/09/2020 06:37

Reading this has made me realise I have not yet broached the subject with my nearly 3 year old. He loves Thomas and has just acquired the library of books so I'll
definitely be downloading your new one to go through it with him. Thank you!

lottiemay · 02/09/2020 09:08

My two year old is train mad! We often take him down to railway bridges to watch them go past so he is used to language surrounding trains and safety. When we take my autistic 7 year old there is a lot of language around the dangerous elements surrounding trains and railways. The children can see first hand what we are talking about and why they would need to be safe and how to keep themselves safe. I believe this first hand experience gives the children something to relate to when we are discussing trains and safety as they have actually seen for themselves what certain things look like and why they would be dangerous. It makes the information relatable. Smile

27Yardsofdentalfloss · 02/09/2020 11:26

My husband used to work on the railway, so talks about railway safety have always been second nature in our house, even when the kids were really little. Sadly he witnessed more than a few accidents and trespassing incidents, so it was always drummed into them that they should stand well back on the platform, never mess about near trains, and never EVER play or trespass on or beside the railway. Level crossing safety, and sensible behaviour on the train have also been important discussion points.

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