Teenager burned in Lanark railbridge accident

The bridge over the railway at Whitelees Road, Lanark.  Picture Sarah Peters.
The bridge over the railway at Whitelees Road, Lanark. Picture Sarah Peters.

Calls are being made for better safety measures around the railtrack as it enters Lanark after a 14-year-old boy was badly injured in an accident on Thursday evening.

The Gazette understands that he and three friends were on the pedestrian bridge across the track linking Whitelees Road to the Smyllum area when, at around 7pm, he was given an electric shock by the power lines underneath.

He was rushed to Wishaw General Hospital, and it is believed that he is still receiving treatment there for burns.

No official statement has been issued giving the exact circumstances of the accident as investigations continue, but the Gazette has heard from local sources that the youngster had got over the parapet of the bridge and was on the outside of it when he received a massive electric charge.

This was the second rail-related serious accident in the area in the space of less than a week, a family having previously narrowly escaped injury when their car was struck by a Virgin cross-border train at the Cleghorn level crossing.

The Gazette understands that early investigations have ruled out the cause of that accident being a technical one relating to the crossing barriers or lights.

The latest incident at the Whitelees Road bridge has led to calls from a local councillor for security measures around the line as it enters populated areas of Lanark to be tightened up.

Councillor Vivienne Shaw said that she had noticed children playing on or near the line in the past and feels that the railside fencing is either insufficient or in poor repair.

Several years ago, a small child was killed by a train just yards from where Thursday night’s accident happened, and there were calls at that time for better security fencing.

Said Ms Shaw: “I was very upset to learn of this horrific accident, and my thoughts and good wishes go out to the family of the child involved.

“Over the years I have seen children playing near the line during daylight hours when driving up Whitelees Road.

“I have reported it, but, by the time the authorities got there, the area was deserted.

“The fencing around the the line is bowed and flimsy.

“A full review is needed to bring this area up to adequate safety standards to ensure this doesn’t happen again.”

A Network Rail spokesman said: “Anyone with concerns about lineside fencing can contact our 24-hour helpline on 0345 711 4141, and our engineers will inspect and assess the area.”