Rail passengers reminded to keep hold of belongings with 2023 take on nursery rhyme classic

  • Govia Thameslink Railway, which operates Southern, Thameslink, Great Northern and Gatwick Express, has released a re-imagined version of the children's song 'Heads, Shoulders, Knees and Toes' for Rail Safety Week (26th June - 2nd July).
  • The song, called the 'Keep off the Track' track, is currently available to stream on Spotify and promotes safety at stations by reminding passengers to keep hold of their belongings when getting on and off trains.
  • More than 400 people risked their lives by stepping onto potentially live railway tracks to retrieve dropped items in the 2022-23 financial year, an increase of 18% from the previous year.
  • The updated lyrics serve as a reminder but also a warning to the public to NEVER take safety into their own hands by trying to retrieve items themselves.

Govia Thameslink Railway (GTR) has reimagined the classic children's song 'Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes' to encourage people to look after their belongings to avoid items falling onto railway tracks. The song, which is called the 'Keep off the Track' track, was released on Spotify today to mark the beginning of Rail Safety Week (26th June - 2nd July).

The song has been re-written to encourage passengers to check their 'Heads [phones], Shoulders [bags], Keys and Phones' when getting on and off trains after Network Rail data revealed that headphones and mobile phones account for 50% and 43%, respectively, of all small tech dropped on tracks since 2018.[i]

The song has been designed to create an earworm that people will remember when travelling and features the voices of children for added impact. Results from a previous transport campaign showed a reduction in incidents when children's voices were used to deliver important messages.[ii]

Almost 200 items are dropped onto railway tracks every year, from the everyday to the unexpected. Some of the most common items include scooters, pushchair wheels, jackets/coats and traffic cones. These have been brought to life in a striking visual that acts as the album cover for the new song, with commonly dropped items creating a chalk body outline associated with crime scenes. The visual is a stark reminder of the consequences that come with accessing railway lines.

From April 2022 until March 2023, more than 400 people risked their lives by stepping onto a train track to retrieve dropped items, an increase of 18% from 2021-22.[iii],[iv]As the numbers continue to grow, GTR hopes that the 'Keep off the Track' track will do exactly that and keep people off train tracks.

GTR's Health, Safety and Security Director, Samantha Facey, said that instances like this are easily avoidable by checking your belongings are secure.

"It's easy for small items like headphones, mobile phones and bank cards to be dropped onto tracks and the last thing we want is for people to be risking their lives to get things back themselves.

"We're unfortunately seeing an increase in these types of incidents, so we wanted to do something to grab people's attention and remind them to keep hold of their belongings when getting on and off trains - and to never try and get a dropped item off the track.

"Heads, Shoulders, Knees and Toes is a classic nursery rhyme recognised worldwide, so we've taken the catchy lyrics and updated them with a serious message to help people be more vigilant with their belongings," Ms Facey said.

As well as health and safety dangers related to dropped items, industry data also reveals that in 2022, more than 60 hours of train delays were caused by items being dropped on tracks.[v]

In the instance that someone does drop something onto the track, they should speak to a member of station staff or visit one of the designated help points.

'Keep off the Track' track by GTR has been released on Spotify today. Listen to it here.


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