Mum’s warning after son electrocuted at rail depot


The parents of an 11-year-old boy who was electrocuted at a rail depot have backed a film warning of the dangers of trespassing on the rail network.

Harrison Ballantyne died in June 2017 after entering Daventry International Rail Freight Terminal in Northamptonshire to retrieve a football.

The boy, from Crick, climbed on to a stationary freight wagon and received a fatal electric shock from an overhead cable.

His mother Liz Ballantyne said making the film was “difficult, but something in my heart that I knew needed to be done”.

The short film, called Harrison’s Story, external, was made in conjunction with Network Rail, British Transport Police and the rail industry.

It features an actor playing Harrison, who lists a series of events he “didn’t expect to be my last…” such as his last day of school, last kickabout or last time seeing his mum, before explaining how they went to search for the football.

“I didn’t even notice the power lines… I didn’t expect electricity to just jump at me through the air,” he says.

Speaking on BBC Breakfast News, Harrison’s mother said: “Having gone through what me and my family have gone through, I had to do something to try to prevent another family from going through the same.”

It forms part of a campaign, external aiming to deter trespassing.

There were 19,408 trespass incidents on the UK rail network in the last financial year with a quarter of those involving under 18s, Network Rail said.

Mrs Ballantyne said, with the nearest train station more than six miles (10km) away, she “had never realised that I needed to educate my children about the dangers of the railway”.

Despite not touching the power cables, Harrison died at the scene after he was hit by 25,000 volts of electricity which had formed an arc.

Drew Ballantyne, Harrison’s father said: “I didn’t know that electricity could jump and arc, and I doubt that he did either.”

‘Devastating potential impact’
Robert Wainwright, head of public safety at Network Rail, said the film was “a tragic reminder of why it is vitally important that we all know about rail safety”.

He said it showed the “devastating potential impact that trespass can have, not only on the trespasser, who risks serious life-changing if not fatal injury, but also on their friends and family, and the wider community”.

W H Malcolm Limited was found guilty of health and safety failings at Northampton Crown Court last year.

It was fined £6.5m after it failed to assess the risk of unauthorised access to the depot in a prosecution brought by the rail regulator, the Office of Rail and Road.

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Olivia Wilson
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