Alarming new figures from Network Rail and British Transport Police reveal more people than ever are risking their lives on the rail network by trespassing on the tracks in the North East.
The data, which looks at trends over the last five years, shows trespass incidents are at an all-time high in the region, while nationally one person trespasses and dices with death every hour.
Last year alone, there were around 313 incidents where people risked their lives on the rail network in the North East – a 22 per cent rise on the previous year.
Research also shows young people are more likely to take a risk on the tracks, with seasonal peaks in incidents coinciding with the spring and summer school holidays.
In 2016, more than 17 children – including 12 in Northumberland – were caught trespassing by police in the region, with boys aged 14 to 16 being stopped the most.
In response to the seasonal surge in incidents and to tackle the problem of youth trespass, Network Rail has 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.
Hayley Bull, community safety manager at Network Rail, said: “Every April we see a huge rise in the number of people taking a risk on the rail network and it’s worrying that these numbers seem to be going up.
“Britain has the safest railway in Europe, but still too many people lose their lives on the tracks. Taking a short cut or messing around on the tracks can result in serious life-changing injuries or death.”