A shocking picture showing a toddler sitting on a level crossing has been released amid warnings over a craze for “railway selfies”.
A CCTV image shows the toddler having her picture taken as she sits on the tracks in Harlech, north Wales.
Authorities released the picture on Wednesday as part of a new campaign to warn people to stay away from the tracks or risk death.
Other footage showed people participating in full photo shoots on the tracks in Neath, and one person lying down on a level crossing to have their snap taken.
The dangerous selfie craze has contributed to a rise in illegal access to level crossings in Wales, with 433 serious incidents recorded since the beginning of the pandemic, official figures show.
In recent years, authorities said hashtags like #railphotography and #railwayshoot have significantly increased, with more than 1 million uses on social media apps.
Transport for Wales, Network Rail and the British Transport Police have launched the “At What Cost?” campaign to warn people of the dangers of level crossing misuse before the school summer holidays.
The safety message is shared in a new film, inspired by a series of real-life incidents and narrated by railway staff members.
Ronnie Gallagher, route level crossing manager at Network Rail, said: “With an expected rise in staycations and holidays to Wales this summer – not to mention the imminent arrival of the school holidays – there has never been a more important time for us to launch a safety awareness campaign around level crossings.”
Jody Donnelly, train driver at Transport for Wales, added: “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.
“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 metres to stop when travelling at top-speed, meaning that a decision to nip across the tracks can be fatal.
Richard Powell, inspector at British Transport Police, said: “Trains approach almost silently, so if you’re distracted, you won't notice until it’s too late.
“Take care around level crossings. No photograph is worth the risk to you or the consequences for your family and any bystanders.”
Trains can reach 125mph and cannot stop quickly so any collision is likely to be fatal.
The turbulence created by trains can also drag people under their wheels if they get too close to the tracks.
The film is part of an advertising campaign in Wales this summer that is appearing across TikTok, Instagram and Spotify.
Authorities will also carry out presentations at schools and holiday parks to drive awareness among young people.
Deliberate misuse of a level crossing, including taking photos, is a criminal offence.
Perpetrators could be taken to court and face a £1000 fine or prison sentence.