Essex TV star Joe Swash fronts new campaign teaching children about rail safety

New research published by Network Rail found 41 per cent of parents in East Anglia talk to their child about rail safety. Credit: Network Rail

Essex TV star Joe Swash is fronting a new campaign teaching children about rail safety.

Network Rail and Thomas the Tank Engine have teamed up to write a book called 'Stay Safe with Thomas' about the dangers of misusing the railway.

In the story, a mischievous Thomas learns that being safe is more important than being silly on the tracks.

Research by Network Rail found 41 per cent of parents in East Anglia talk to their child about rail safety - compared to road safety - where almost all parents have talked to their children about it.

It is hoped the book will help help parents approach the topic with their children from a young age.

  • As part of the campaign, Joe features in a short film reading the story

Joe admits that rail safety is not a topic he has talked about much, but since joining the campaign, he has begun having conversations about the subject with his own children.

“Rail safety is something I knew Stacey and I should talk to the kids about, but we thought it was something they might learn at school when they are a bit older", Joe said.

"We had talked about being careful when out near the road, but even though we use the railways often, we didn’t really know where to start and we didn’t want to scare them.

“Our kids love Thomas the Tank Engine and when we read the book, they loved it. The activities at the end got them thinking too and it was such a gentle way to get the message across.”

In the book, Thomas learns valuable lessons on how to stay safe on the tracks. Credit: Network Rail and Thomas & Friends™

Last year, there were more than 3500 incidents involving young people illegally and dangerously going onto the tracks.

The campaign forms part of Network Rail’s commitment to helping parents educate their children about staying safe when travelling on or around the railway.

"We hope that by encouraging parents to start these conversations earlier, we will see more young people growing up aware of the risks and using the railway safely", Allan Spence from Network Rail said.

“We are delighted Joe has joined us to help show parents how easy these conversations with children can be, by just reading to them or showing them a short film with a much-loved TV character.”

Network Rail is also working with parent website Mumsnet to highlight the benefits of reading the book to young children.

The book will also be sent to nurseries, pre-schools and primary schools and a free copy of the book can be downloaded here.