Following a recent series of illegal trespass incidents across the country, Network Rail and British Transport Police are warning rail enthusiasts to keep off the railway this week when the iconic steam locomotive Flying Scotsman visits Surrey, Hampshire and Wiltshire.
The Flying Scotsman will tour the Surrey Hills on Thursday 30 May and visit both Southampton and Salisbury on Saturday 1 June.
The forthcoming journeys on the Wessex route follow a visit to Dorset in March which saw a number of cases of unsafe and illegal behaviours, including trespassing on the railway and dangerous drone operation.
Trespassers also caused nearly 60 services to be delayed in the Midlands for a total of 1,000 minutes when Flying Scotsman was touring between Burton-upon-Trent and Tamworth earlier this month.
As well as the constant danger from passing trains, the railway in the Southern region is largely electrified using a ground-level conductor rail, which is always switched on and can seriously injure or kill anyone who comes into contact with it.
It is also illegal for anyone else to fly a drone on, over or within 50 metres of the railway. It is not only incredibly dangerous but you could be taken to court and face a penalty of up to £2,500.
David Dickson, chief operating officer for Network Rail’s Wessex route, said:
“Unfortunately, we have experienced serious incidents of illegal trespass on the railway when Flying Scotsman has been touring, putting lives at risk and causing delays for tens of thousands of passengers.
“We will be working closer than ever with British Transport Police and train operating companies to make sure everyone can safely enjoy the experience and the joy this iconic piece of British engineering brings.”
Network Rail, British Transport Police and train operating companies will have extra staff at stations, officers on-board the train and mounted cameras to capture any incidents of trespass.
Inspector Andy Jackson from British Transport Police, said:
“We understand that the Flying Scotsman generates lots of interest and we know the journey throughout the Wessex region will see thousands head to the railway to see this historic engine pass. We will be working closely with Network Rail to ensure this journey is smooth and trouble free.
“Despite previous warnings, people have ignored our advice and illegally trespassed on the tracks. This is not acceptable and we will always work hard to identify offenders and take appropriate actions. I would remind everyone that the railway is a hazardous environment, and no one should be putting their lives at risk to take photos.”