Media campaigns

A planned series of messages delivered through a range of media (e.g. newspapers, television, social media) to raise awareness of the dangers and illegality of trespass.

Wide reaching, persuasive techniques to influence knowledge of risks and attitudes to trespass and supporting correct and appropriate behaviour near railways.

Likely to be applied generally in relation to dangers of railway trespass, but could be considered for local issues, such as a hotspot location or location type (e.g. depots), where people are commonly involved in trespass events.

By whom? - May require involvement of specialists in developing campaigns and behavioural change, working in conjunction with industry staff in trespass prevention roles. 

Applicability / suitability for trespass types

Where there is a problem at a rail location or location type and there are opportunities to communicate a message through various persuasive techniques (e.g. this could include a dramatic or emotional portrayal or an incident). Needs to target people who might be receptive to the safety message.

Trespasser type = All types

Trespass events = Unintentional, Convenience, Fare evasion, Anti-social behaviour, Graffiti, Hangout, Recreation, Person in Crisis.

Observed behaviours = Accessing the track or rail location, crossing the track, exiting the platform end, damage to infrastructure or equipment or fencing, items laid on track, evidence of graffiti, signs of drug use, playing with equipment, train surfing.

Potential Motivations = Not understanding rules, retrieving dropped items, shorten distance, save time; perceiving risk to be low, self-expression, moral judgement and reasoning, peer pressure; recognition, rebellion, territorial; seeking place of seclusion, poor mental health.


Medium effectiveness

The evidence is mixed. Some studies showed a fall in trespass behaviour following a media campaign (Trains Move Faster Than You” campaign). Other studies indicated that certain groups (e.g. male teenagers) consider some safety campaigns “pointless” and “exaggerated”.

Videos based on true life experiences and scenarios can have emotional impact and can be effective for teenagers and young people. 

Many evaluations have focused on the reach of the campaign and it can take a longer time to determine the effectiveness in terms of behavioural changes.  Network Rail’s You vs Train media campaign reported that 94% said that the campaign made them more aware of the hidden dangers of the railway track.  44% of children said it decreased their likelihood of ignoring warnings of dangers of going onto the track.  95% of parents agree that it will make them more likely to speak to their children about the dangers of the railway tracks.  There are indications of reductions in the numbers of incidents, delay minutes and schedule 8 payments in areas targeted.

Can have early impact on changing attitudes, but behavioural change may take years to show any effect.

To be effective the media campaign needs to be sustained (i.e. repeated at least yearly and refreshing the delivery of the message after a period of time).

Factors influencing effectiveness

An appropriate message - clear, current and relevant to a type of trespass event. 

Ability to connect with the target audience (e.g. through the person who is delivering the message or the type of media used).

How to apply or implement, including dependencies

Define the purpose of the campaign and the target audience.

Consider the type of message, or the way it is portrayed.  A single message type will not work in all circumstances, or for all audiences (for example, fear campaigns are not effective for everyone).  

Convey clear facts to get the message to young people.

Focusing campaigns on the impact that their trespass behaviour might have on their loved ones can engage young males.

Consider the method of delivery of the message.  Including famous people in rail safety campaigns isn’t effective on its own.  Their presence needs to be important to tell the story.

Combine media campaigns with other measures, including educational programmes, posters, signs, physical barriers and sanctions.

Can be used independently by an organisation and not dependent on other institutions.



Can be costly. Will depend on factors such as scale of the campaign, type of media used.

Haven’t found what you’re looking for?
Get in touch with our Senior Safety Intelligence Analyst for further information.
Siona Vass
Tel: 020 3142 5485
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