Network Rail and British Transport Police are urging parents and carers in the Thames Valley, West Country and South West to hammer home railway safety messages as schools across Britain close.

Incidents of trespass on the railway always spike when children are not at school, so parents are urged to remind their children to keep off the tracks as trespassing on the railway is incredibly dangerous and can have horrendous consequences for children and their families.

Last year, across Network Rail’s Western route, which covers the Thames Valley, Wiltshire, Bristol and the West Country, Worcester and the South West, there were 1,300 instances of trespass – an increase of almost 100 from the previous year.

Almost a quarter of last year’s trespass incidents on Western involved youths.

Hotspots across the region include in Bedminster in Bristol, Hayes & Harlington, Southall, and Reading. However, trespass has occurred in every part of the Western route with an increase when schools are closed.

Mike Gallop, Network Rail route director for Western, said: “The Easter holidays are the start of the peak for railway trespass and with schools now closed for an extended period, I am concerned that the railway could become the default play area for some younger people.

“Each year, we see hundreds of people taking risks on and around the railway, resulting in tragic consequences and life-changing injuries. Both these outcomes are very avoidable.

“I would strongly urge adults to talk to their children and younger relatives about the dangers of trespassing on the railway”

British Transport Police Inspector, Darren Burridge, explained: “We are continuing to proactively patrol the thousands of miles of railway network we police across the Thames Valley, West Country and South West.

“Safety is our number one priority; we’re asking that we all speak to the young people in our lives and makes them aware of the importance of rail safety, so that they understand that everyone loses when you step on the track.”

Network Rail and British Transport Police run a hard-hitting safety campaign – You Vs Train, which highlights the devastating consequences of trespassing on the railway.

With the early closure of schools, parents can sign up for free online tutorials of the You Vs Train railway safety lessons, which are normally broadcast into schools via the rail industry’s educational partner LearnLive; visit https://learnliveuk.com/trespass-awareness-week/ for more details.