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Foundations of Rail Safety


Rail safety education is important for all children to learn and understand. Rail safety Education has conducted research surrounding the most effective methodologies of teaching children.

In this section you will find:

Why teach rail safety?
Safety education - what the evidence tells us
Design principles used
Whole school approach
Publications which informed the design


All children are likely to come across trains and train tracks at level crossings, pedestrian level crossings, train station platforms or in areas without fencing such as farms or rural environments at some stage in their lives. Learning safety skills around trains and train tracks at a young age is as important as learning to cross the road or learning how to swim.

Indias’s rail network is the largest in the world, with 115,000 Km (71,000 mi) of track and more level crossings across the network. A large portion of the network is unfenced. 
An estimated 500,000 Indian school students use the rail network to commute to school each day, many of whom are unsupervised. Many more students from both urban and rural areas catch trains during weekends and school holidays, and use level crossings as pedestrians or passengers in vehicles.
Indian rail operators report that school students regularly take risks near platform edges and on level crossings, not demonstrating the behaviours necessary to keep themselves safe around trains and tracks. Often these actions are due to distraction, complacency (e.g. urban students who commute daily, or rural students who do not expect trains), unfamiliarity (e.g. rural students visiting an urban environment) or peer pressure; however, these actions can cost young people dearly. 
There are also some young people who engage in risky behavior on or near train tracks deliberately and wilfully. A disproportionate number of young people trespass daily on train tracks to apply graffiti or vandalise property, deliberately risking their own and others’ lives, with the attitude that the potential lifelong consequences of their actions ‘won’t happen to them’. 
Regardless of the intent, the consequences can be catastrophic, involving permanent injuries or even fatality. 
On average, across India each year there are a total of: 
166 collisions between trains and people or vehicles, including 35 collisions causing fatality (excluding suicide); plus
thousands of reported near collisions, with many more that go unreported.
While your students may not ordinarily engage in risk taking behaviour, if they are distracted or in a peer pressure situation, regardless of whether they interact with a track environment regularly or very infrequently, they may not have the skills or ability to make the safe choice at the crucial moment. Quality rail safety education that is based on best-practice research can change that.
We are sure you can see the value and importance of teaching students train and track safety knowledge, skills and attitudes in your classroom, no matter which part of India you live in.

Many young people have knowledge about how to behave near trains and tracks, yet are sometimes unable to apply this knowledge in context. We do not know exactly why, but when we look at the research from the road safety education field, it is possible that the reason lies in the delivery of the safety messages. 
Safety identified that, at the most crucial developmental period in their lives as active and responsible citizens of our society, Indian school students have not previously had access to consistent, high quality curriculum-based rail safety education, which evidence suggests is the best way to ensure the messages are retained.
Rail safety programs delivered by rail operators are valid and can engage students, however research indicates that:
one-off approaches, such as presentations by a subject matter expert  in isolation are not an effective method of ensuring students retain safety messages.
any approach which uses shock or fear to invoke a response in students, (such as stories about people dying or being seriously injured, or graphic photos or images relating to people who have experienced a traumatic incident) without supporting it with positive strengths-based messaging, is counterproductive and can actually increase risk-taking behavior. This is because the recipient (in this case a student) puts up a ‘shield’ between the shocking message and their own reality.
student-centred, curriculum-based approaches which are taught over a longer period of time and regularly throughout a student’s life are much more effective, because students can engage deeply with the safety messages which in turn can increase their ‘care factor’.
curriculum-based approaches combined with high quality safety  engagement (i.e. in classroom or in-context learning before and after a school visit) can also be more effective, provided the Safety engagement goes beyond information delivery to create a two-way dialogue with students and complement the learning outcomes in the curriculum-based approach.
Evidence-based, strengths-based rail safety education can contribute to improving the statistics in the long term when combined with other evidence-based initiatives.
Be on the Safe Side is based on a whole school approach, in line with the World Health Organisation’s Health Promoting Schools Framework, which encourages health related issues (including injury prevention) to be addressed through:
curriculum based teaching and learning,
the school’s ethos and environment, and
parents and community
which all work together as part of the solution to improve safety around trains and tracks.                  
If your child is learning rail safety through our Be on the Safe Side initiative, your child is learning about how to stay safe near trains, tracks, and pedestrian level crossings. We call these the 'safety actions'.
Often children know how to act safely on platforms, or around tracks or pedestrian level crossings; however this does not always translate in their actions, especially when there are other distractions. 
Young children need to consciously practice waiting safely on a station platform, and crossing safely at a pedestrian level crossing. Young children need continuous reinforcement about being safe around trains and tracks – no matter where they live and how much they interact with rail networks. Each time you are near the rail network with your child, please reinforce the safety actions. 
At a pedestrian level crossing, hold your child’s hand when approaching and waiting. If you are also pushing a stroller, you could ask your child to hold the stroller.
If you or your child is on a bike or scooter, hop off so you don’t get stuck on the tracks.
Talk about the safety actions of STOP LOOK LISTEN THINK and why they are important to do.
Wait until the bells and lights have stopped and the pedestrian gate opens (if there is one) and repeat STOP LOOK LISTEN THINK.
When crossing, point out the double lines and always walk between them.
Wait away from a pedestrian level crossing and discuss with your child what they can see. Reinforce safe vocabulary and talk about how we know where the safe place to cross is.
If a train passes through, talk about how big the train is, how fast is goes and how hard it would be to stop it.

Talk to your child about the dangers of unfenced train tracks, and what to do if there is no pedestrian level crossing.
Reinforce that trains can come from any time and from either direction. Remind them to walk to a more suitable place to cross e.g. a pedestrian level crossing.
For remote tracks with no crossings, strongly reinforce the safety actions;   STOP- LOOK- LISTEN -THINK.
Talk about the different safety features, such as signs. Pay particular attention to the yellow (or white) line.
Talk about why these safety features are there and how they keep us safe. 
When on a station platform hold your child’s hand or direct them to hold a safe alternative such as part of your clothing, an older sibling’s hand or stroller.
Talk about the yellow line and why you must stay behind it. When the train arrives wait for the train to come to a complete stop before crossing over the yellow line.
Discuss with your child how important it is to remove headphones when you are near train tracks. Encourage them to listen for the noises associated with approaching trains, including bells and the moving train, etc. This also applies to waiting near pedestrian level crossings and unfenced train tracks.

Welcome to Be on the Safe Side – Rail Vidya Safety Education for Safety Students! Here parents and community members can find:
Useful information about how to teach your young child to be safe around trains and train tracks
Exemplary samples of student achievement in rail safety at school from around India – you might see your child’s school work on display!
What you can do to make a difference in rail safety for young people in your community
The research base which informed our approach

Safety education is fundamental for young people to learn how to act safely in unpredictable environments.
Young people can learn to make their own safe choices through effective safety education, creating life-long skills. Rail safety education is often overlooked as a top priority, yet the consequences of not making safe choices can be catastrophic.
Be on the Safe Side has been developed to make teaching rail safety easy, and alleviate the pressure on parents and teachers, so young people can learn the appropriate skills needed to act safely around trains and train tracks.
The key benefits of the Be on the Safe Side learning resources are:
Rail safety is embedded within a variety of rather than being an ‘extra’ program. You can be confident knowing you are teaching meaningful lessons within the curriculum, while students learn essential life lessons to stay safe around trains and tracks.
Free to download and editable to suit your requirements and the needs of your students.
Designed by teachers, for teachers.
Created using a strengths-based approach, rather than invoking shock or fear.
Student centred, with a focus on students being the problem finders and problem solvers in a meaningful context for learning. Students can create their own sense of meaning through the activities.
Designed using evidence-based methodologies for teaching safety, based on current research.
Includes assessment to measure observed rail safety learning outcomes.
Below is a guide on how to download and use the learning resources:
Choose the unit of work that you wish to teach your class by either browsing or searching the learning resources.
Download the appropriate unit of work as a zip file, and save it to your computer, tablet or USB stick.
Read the teacher notes, and review the lesson plans, resources and assessments.
Choose the activities which best suit you and the needs of your students. They are designed for differentiation so the class can work on several activities at once.
Prepare the lesson and assessments by printing or loading any required resources onto your electronic whiteboard. All lessons are editable to ensure you can amend to suit your and your students’ needs.
Get students to conduct self-assessments to determine their levels of prior knowledge, learning and attitudes in train and track safety.
Teach the lessons flexibly – over several days or weeks – whatever fits in with your teaching program. Remember to take photos or video of the students learning, to share with other teachers, parents, carers and the community.
Assess students on their demonstrated knowledge, skills and attitudes in train and track safety, and their achievements within the All India rail Safey Council content descriptions. Record their achievements on the assessment rubric.
Share your class’ achievements by uploading student work, any photos or video of the learning process, and their anonymous learning results; evaluate the learning resources. When you share and evaluate, we will send you certificates of achievement and fantastic prizes for each student.

Pat yourself on the back – you have contributed greatly to the safety of your students around trains and tracks, while still fulfilling the expected learning achievement standards within the curriculum.


RAIL VIDYA (Childern Safety Awarness Education Programme)

We are on a mission to empower you to improve your own and others’ safety around trains and train tracks. We believe that you hold an important role in shaping the future of rail safety.

This website is forprimary and high school students; to encourage you to become rail safety activists in your community, and arm you with the appropriate knowledge and skills so you can demonstrate your positive and safe actions to adults, children, and your peers.

We support you taking the initiative to work with others in your community, to develop solutions to local issues and maximise your impact on your own and others’ safety.

Read more