POLICE have launched a new campaign, aimed at stopping youngsters from trespassing on railway lines and throwing objects at trains.
Officers will step up patrols near both south Essex’s main railway lines over the next six weeks, with the aim of curbing an expected summer increase in incidents on railway lines.
Hundreds of under-25s – as many as 14 a day – risk their lives every year by trespassing on the railways, national figures suggest.
More than half of all railway trespassers are said to aged between 14 and 25, with lighter evenings and school holidays leading to more trespassing and vandalism.
Supt Richard Moffatt, of British Transport Police, said: “Those who trespass on the railway, whether to look for shortcuts or to simply hang out somewhere different, run the very real risk of suffering serious injury or even death.
“Trains travel at high speed, are surprisingly quiet, cannot swerve to avoid trespassers and take a long time to stop. Often, by the time a trespasser notices a train is coming it is too late.
“Those who throw objects at trains, or place items on the tracks are also problematic, though the risk they take is with the lives of others.
“In the past we have seen bricks and even shopping trolleys thrown at moving trains, while some people have placed concrete blocks and bikes on the tracks.”
Between April and June this year, British Transport Police recorded almost 2,400 trespass incidents, more than half of which involved people aged 25 or younger.
Police say they will be using helicopters and information provided by railway workers to track trespassers.
They will also report damage, such as broken fences, so it can be repaired, making it harder for youngsters to reach the tracks.
Mr Moffatt added: “Historically, we see a significant rise in trespass incidents during the summer.
“This generally coincides with the school holidays, when we also see an increase in incidents of route crime, such as stone-throwing or placing objects on the track.
“To combat this, we will be working with our colleagues at c2c to educate people about the dangers.
“We will also all be looking out for people who ignore this advice and persist in problematic, or criminal behaviour.”
Iain Palmer, c2c’s security manager said: “We know how popular the railways are during the summer, in particular with young people, who may not be used to travelling by train.
“That’s why were working with British Transport Police to ensure everyone knows how to stay safe and to tackle any antisocial behaviour which might arise, for the benefit of all our customers.”