Passengers using Motspur Park station have been caught walking along the railway in recent weeks because they don’t want to use a diversion while a new footbridge is being installed.

(c) Network Rail

The station, in southwest London, has a platform between two railway tracks and an old footbridge that links both sides of the station to the platforms. A few months ago, the ticket office entrance closed as Network Rail is building a new footbridge with lifts to make the station accessible.

That means people who used to use the ticket office side are being diverted around to the other side via a nearby road and level crossing. It’s only a modest detour, as the station is quite close to the level crossing that people are asked to walk around.

Diversion route overlay on Google map

What Network Rail has found though is that people are seemingly so annoyed by the extra few minutes of walking that they are starting to go to the end of the platform and then walk along the railway tracks to the level crossing as a very dangerous shortcut.

Network Rail says that over the past couple of weeks, there have been five reported instances of adults and children walking along the railway tracks, and is now issuing warnings about how dangerous that is.

Helen Yorke, Network Rail’s Wessex route crime manager, said: “It’s mind-blowing to see the stupid and reckless behaviour of individuals who are disregarding their own and other people’s safety by trespassing on the railway instead of following a designated diversion.”

“Trains that travel on the railway through Motspur Park and across our Wessex route more widely are powered by the third rail which contains 750 volts – easily enough to kill or seriously injure – and is on 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.”

Network Rail says that it is working with South Western Railway (SWR) and the British Transport Police (BTP) to tackle this issue by providing additional guards at the station, increasing the number of BTP patrols at both the station and the level crossing as well as installing anti-trespass panels – known as Witches Hats – at the level crossing.

CCTV footage supplied by Network Rail


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  1. Andrew says:

    A similar issue is currently happening at Warwick station too. The underpass is closed for refurbishment with a diversion to get from platform 1 to 2 around the outside of the station. A number of people have been caught crossing the tracks.

  2. Nick says:

    It’s not mentioned in the article whether Network Rail did any assessment beforehand to establish the risk of this happening, but perhaps not as they seem to have been taken by surprise. Tnis is concerning because most railway staff could have predicted this exact scenario within a couple of minutes of being briefed about the closure proposals. Did they pre-install any signs and barriers to prevent this happening, or is that all being done retrospectively? What engagement did they do with customers to pre-warn of the risks, or is that just happening now? When the bridge closed, did they employ any extra staff/security to monitor the platform, or are they just putting it in place? Yes, the people walking off the end of the platform are stupid and reckless, but it feels like NR are even more stupid and reckless for not preparing even nearly adequately for something that was pretty much guaranteed to happen.

    I recall that at Kenton a temporary scaffolding bridge was built across the platform when the footbridge was being replaced. Was that even considered here?

    • ianVisits says:

      If you are actually interested, you could ask Network Rail — but I think it’s a bit much to suggest it’s obvious that people will walk along a live railway to save about 2 minutes of walking along a road.

    • Mike says:

      At Kenton, there is no possible footpath from one side of the station to the other, and no level crossings.
      Also, the ticket office is built into the footbridge, so a temporary scaffold bridge was necessary.

  3. Andrew says:

    Desire lines should be well understood by authorities. People who walk along the line will know full well about the third rail and be well aware to watch out for trains. Yes, it could go wrong if someone is careless or drunk. I wouldn’t call it stupid and reckless behaviour, rather calculated behaviour. From someone who when younger used to walk along railway lines and managed to survive.

    • Andy T says:

      It doesn’t take much to fall over, aside from the obvious danger from trains, the stones can cause quite nasty injuries. The 3rd Rail is just another hazard, fortunately that won’t hurt for more than about a minute!!!

  4. Causton says:

    Common behaviour in other countries, some parts of France, Austria, Hungary. Over there they have common sense which doesn’t exist here.

  5. Nick says:

    If you work in rail, you’ll know that if people think they can save time, or money, by doing something they shouldn’t, then there’s a decent number that will do so. If the walk to the level crossing is a quicker route than the walk via the the detour, then there are people that will do it. Customers jump down and cross live tracks on LU open section stations rather than walk over footbridges. Many don’t seem to understand the risk and don’t know which rails are live. If Network Rail are surprised by the number of people walking via the track then they didn’t do a good enough risk assessment.

  6. Pete brown says:

    My local station in the 60s until 80s where the train used to wait outside often for 30 minutes it was common practice for passengers to climb down from the slam door carriages onto cess path and walk up to the station or more often take a shortcut through the Railway Hotel rear garden

  7. Ann says:

    Sorry Ian I actually live here and no it is not 2 minutes walk, but 10 minutes walk for most and also the chance of getting trapped on foot at the level crossing if it’s down for 5-10 minutes. It is actually very poor planning by network rail, and they should shoulder the responsibility of their annoyed clients and fix this access to make it easier for all. The close entrance is where most actually live, it’s near a school as well so its a highly inconvenient diversion. The same works are happening in Stoneleigh without all this inconvenience

    • ianVisits says:

      Even Google says it’s just 3 minutes from the footbridge to the level crossing, and Google assumes slow walking — people are walking on the tracks to save 2-3 minutes, and that’s just insane.

  8. Keoth says:

    Network Rail can hardly be surprised. A similar thing happened at Beckenham Junction, also in south east London and with a third rail, when the footbridge was closed for months while the deck was replaced. People – I only saw young men – jumped off one platform, crossed two tracks and climbed back on the opposite platform.

  9. Andy says:

    This is all part of the massive redesign of stations to
    cater for a very small minority of disabled people moaning
    about not being able to use stations, most of whom will
    never do so. It’s a massive waste of money and resources by
    Network Rail which it’s customers will ultimately pay for
    through higher fares. Yes, I agree that the disabled should
    not be denied access to stations and in my working career, I
    used a similar station setup at Hinchley Wood together with
    a disabled colleague and several friends. One of us would
    get either side and lift his wheelchair over the footbridge
    and down on to the platform and onto the train.. simple.
    It’s about helping people and more importantly the disabled
    person being prepared to accept it traits that few on both
    sides these days seem to have in their make up. My local
    station at Ewell West has also been done with a hideous
    footbridge which is at least being used… as a lavatory by
    the smell of it, something I’ve also noticed at West
    With Motspur Park, NR should have looked at the wide
    space between the lines, now being used as a shortcut.
    Surely it would have been a far easier option to put a
    tarmac path from the level crossing to the end of the
    island platform, thus negating the need for a lift
    equipped bridge.

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