PARENTS and carers are being urged to hammer home the need for children and young people to stay off the railway, as school closures always see a spike in railway trespass.

Railways in the southern region of Network Rail are powered by a live rail, electrified at 750V, which is more than enough to kill or seriously injure.

Since the schools closed on Friday there have been 16 trespassing incidents in the region, as well as other instances of vandalism, including a bicycle thrown on the track and hit by a train.

John Halsall, managing director of Network Rail southern region, said: “Young people think nothing bad will happen to them but sadly we know that’s not the case. This period of school closures is likely to last for an extended time and we are already seeing a rise in incidents.

“Our railway is so dangerous, with electrified rails at ground level and trains running 24 hours a day even with the impact of the coronavirus, I can only appeal to parents and carers to make sure the message is reinforced - please stay away from the tracks.”

More than 13,500 trespass incidents occur on the rail network each year, a quarter of which involve young people.

Allan Spence, head of public and passenger safety at Network Rail, said: “Easter holidays and the clocks going forward are the start of the peak for railway trespass and with schools now closed for an extended period, I’m really worried that the railway will become an irresistible but catastrophic playground for young people.

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

“Please talk to your children, access our free school railway safety lessons and help us to help protect young people. It’s straightforward: everyone loses if you choose to 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.