Safety film inspired by Northamptonshire teens turned into comic

Network Rail has produced a new comic book based on the safety film, ‘18’, which was developed with the help of pupils from Kingswood Secondary Academy in Corby.

Last summer, Network Rail visited the school to hold safety workshops, teaching some of the pupils about the dangers of 25,000 volt overhead line equipment. Insights and storyline suggestions from pupils at Kingswood were then used to script a safety film – which they saw being filmed during a visit to the set and attended the premiere at BAFTA last July.

On Wednesday 27 November, Network Rail came back to meet with the pupils involved to hand out copies of the comic that has now been developed using the film’s storyline and will help spread the life-saving safety message in a new way.

The initial multi-award-winning original film ‘18’ which Network Rail commissioned last year and has been viewed over five million times. The pupils got to see their ideas in another way, highlighting the dangers of trespassing on near or electrified railway.

The plot of the film was devised through these safety workshops with pupils aged 11-16 taking part. This was to make sure that it resonated with the target audience and made the pupils aware that the railway line is being electrified in the area. This is part of the Midland Main Line Upgrade, which involves the electrification of the line from London to Kettering and Corby via Bedford. It will bring a wide range of benefits to passengers including more seats, quieter trains, and on the whole a more reliable and quicker service for both passengers and lineside neighbours.

The comic was then produced to add extra awareness from the film that depicts the devastating and life changing consequences which coming into contact with overhead line equipment can have. Subsequently, the comic was launched at the Comic Con event in Birmingham. Over 24,000 people attended the event and 3500 copies were handed out to attendees free of charge.

Gavin Crook, Principal Programme Sponsor for Network Rail, said: “The upgrade will bring huge benefits to passengers, however, the new equipment which will be used to power the trains carries 25,000 volts of electricity”.

“There is never an excuse to trespass on the railway. Safety is our top priority and we are really pleased that we could involve the pupils at Kingswood Secondary Academy in raising awareness of the dangers which trespassing on an electrified line can cause”.

Leah and Mia, from Kingswood Secondary Academy, said: “It is so strange to think we made the idea and now it’s a film and a comic.”

Print copies will be available free of charge at public safety events taking place across Northamptonshire and Bedfordshire from February 2020 along the electrified route of the Midland Main Line. For anyone unable to attend an event, a digital version will also be available early in the New Year.