CHILDREN are being warned to stay off the region’s railway lines as shocking new figures show the total number of trespass incidents are at a record five-year high.
The warning has come from the British Transport Police (BTP) and Network Rail who say more people than ever are risking their lives.
The latest figures show in the last 12 months BTP were called out to 1,142 incidents of people walking on railway lines in the North West, which is a 22 per cent rise on the previous year.
The figures were further broken down to reveal that in Lancashire seven of those incidents involved children.
Network Rail has also launched a schools engagement programme, which aims to teach children in trespass hotspots about railway safety.
The ‘Tackling Track Safety’ programme will be rolled-out to more than 100 schools across Britain, using sport to educate children about the dangers across the network.
Iain McLaren, from BTP in the North West, said: “We believe the number of children we encounter trespassing every year is sadly, just the tip of the iceberg.
“Every single day we are called to the tracks because a train driver has had to sound their horn or apply their emergency brake in a desperate bid to avoid youths on the line, who then run off, seemingly unaware of the danger they have put themselves in.
“We continue to do all we can to keep youngsters safe by patrolling areas where we know they’re likely to trespass and prevent them from doing so.
“However, we cover thousands of miles of track and we cannot tackle this issue alone. That is why we are urging parents and young people to heed this warning and take a reality check when it comes to trespass. It’s not a game: they are real tracks, with real trains and real-life consequences.”
The figures also highlight that youth trespass is more prevalent in areas where there is higher socio-economic deprivation.
Visit www.networkrail.co.uk/trespass or www.btp.police.uk/realitycheck.