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Students collaborate to tackle rail trespass

Students from UTC South Durham and Newcastle College Rail and Civil Engineering Academy with representatives from Bishop Line CRP, Community Rail Lancashire, Tyne Valley CRP, CrossCountry, Network Rail, Nexus and Northern, during the Backtrack celebration event at the Newcastle College Rail and Civil Engineering Academy in Felling, Gateshead.

Students from two North-east colleges have come together to celebrate the winners of the Backtrack anti-rail-trespass competition.

Prizes were awarded to the students of two winning groups who created engaging short films pledging to not trespass on the railway. The individual films have been collated into a Backtrack educational video which will be used in schools and groups across the country to encourage others to stay safe on the railway. You can view the final Backtrack film here.

Students from the two winning groups represented two colleges in the region: University Technical College (UTC) South Durham, a STEM-focused technical college for 14–19-year-olds located on Aycliffe Business Park; and Newcastle College’s Rail and Civil Engineering Academy in Felling, Gateshead, which is a one-of-a-kind training facility for students aged 16 and upwards with a focus on track maintenance and railway engineering.

At the celebration event on Tuesday 31 January, the teenage STEM enthusiasts enjoyed a full day at the rail training facility where they took part in activities to build and reflect on their employability skills. Year 10 and 11 students from South Durham travelled by train and Metro to Felling, some experiencing the Tyne & Wear Metro for the first time. They were then buddied up with Year 12 Rail students from Newcastle to carry out the skills building activities together.

Representatives from the rail industry were on hand to assess the teens and reflect back their observations. Students were praised for their respect for each other, effective communication, good teamwork, imagination, improvisation and adaptability.

Backtrack is supported by organisations across the rail industry, including CrossCountry, LNER, Northern, Network Rail, Nexus and TransPennine Express, and is managed by a steering group of members of the Community Rail Education Network, Bishop Line Community Rail Partnership, Community Rail Lancashire, Penistone Line Partnership, Southeast Communities Rail Partnership and Tyne Valley Community Rail Partnership.

Lesley Moore, Head of Transport at Newcastle College, commented: “The Academy were proud to host the Backtrack awards. The students from UTC South Durham spent the day with our subsidiary diploma rail students taking part in fun activities. It was a really well-planned day focusing on the safety aspects of day-to-day railway usage. A huge thanks to everyone involved in the event and a massive congratulations to the two winning groups.”

Alex Bray, Stakeholder Liaison Manager for CrossCountry, said: “CrossCountry are proud to support the first in-person Backtrack awards which recognise the creative talents of young people from across the country. The popularity of the competition demonstrates young people’s commitment to being safe around the railway.”

Marie Addison, Northern’s Regional Community and Sustainability Manager for the North East, commented: “It was an absolute pleasure to attend the Backtrack event at the Rail Academy. The competition has gone from strength to strength with outstanding entries from all ages. The celebration event was the perfect opportunity to bring everyone together to say a huge thank you and to showcase the fantastic work created.”

Backtrack 2023 is now open for entries. Visit the competition site to find out how to enter, as well as how to sponsor and share the competition further. You can also keep up to date with the competition via Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, TikTok and YouTube.