By Ben Cost
TikTok trends are going off the rails.
Railway officials in the UK are cautioning against the latest moronic TikTok phenomenon, in which clout-seeking bozos take selfies, dance and even place their toddlers on railroad tracks. Photos and pics of the alarming #railwayshoot stunt have over 1 million views across multiple social media platforms, South West News Service (SWNS) reported.
“It’s a very worrying trend,” Ronnie Gallagher, Route Level Crossing Manager at Network Rail, said during a BBC “Crimewatch” segment documenting the “illegal” and “dangerous” craze.
Gallagher added, “No photograph is worth the risk to you or the consequences to your family.”
Recent examples of the fad include two teenagers recklessly dancing on the tracks for a TikTok video before fleeing an incoming train. In the most shocking stunt, a pair of irresponsible parents even placed their toddler on the rails for a photo, SWNS reported.
‘People seem to think that the worst won’t happen to them ― but if you’re caught short at a level crossing, it simply isn’t true.’
Jody Donnelly, train driver for Transport for Wales
The harebrained hobby has contributed to the rise in people illegally trespassing railroad crossings in Wales with 433 serious incidents reported since the advent of the COVID-19 pandemic, according to the British Transport Police and Transport for Wales. The UK as a whole recorded 1,239 instances of people illegally crossing the tracks in September alone — the highest figure in five years.
“Over the years, myself and many of my colleagues ― from within station, driver and conductor roles ― have had to deal with hundreds of frightening and sometimes tragic occurrences at level crossings,” Jody Donnelly, train driver at Transport for Wales, told Cambridgeshire Live.
“People seem to think that the worst won’t happen to them ― but if you’re caught short at a level crossing, it simply isn’t true. Unlike cars, trains can take hundreds of meters to stop when traveling at top speed, meaning that a decision to nip across the tracks can be fatal.”
Network Rail warns that even simply standing too close to the railroad tracks can also prove fatal as the turbulence generated by trains can suck people under the wheels.
In order to curb the disastrous pastime, Network Rail has joined forces with the British Transport Police and Transport for Wales to launch a new video campaign illustrating the dangers of mucking around on the railroad tracks for social media clicks.
The initiative, entitled “At What Cost?,” uses an emotive new film inspired by a series of real-life events in order to persuade “people in Wales to consider the true cost of taking a risk at a level crossing,” according to Gallagher.
“With an expected rise in staycations — not to mention the school holidays — there has never been a more important time for us to launch a campaign around level crossings,” the rail boss added of the video public service announcement, which is streaming on TikTok, YouTube, Instagram and Spotify, as well as in schools and parks.