Trains delayed more than 30,000 minutes due to trespassers

Greater Anglia train at Woodbridge station on the East Suffolk Line Picture: PAUL GEATER

Greater Anglia train at Woodbridge station on the East Suffolk Line Picture: PAUL GEATER - Credit: Archant

Railway trespassers have caused nearly three weeks’ worth of delays on Greater Anglia trains in the past year, the rail company has said.

Figures show trains were delayed for more than 30,000 minutes over the past 12 months due to trespassers on or near the tracks – which is an increase of more than a third in three years.

Greater Anglia said trespass incidents can range from people ‘playing chicken’, someone walking beside the track, or vulnerable people – but anyone who is on the railway line without permission is risking their life.

According to the rail operator, it can take the length of 20 football pitches to stop an intercity train when it applies the emergency brake.

The figures revealed the delay in minutes for trains in 2017/18 was 30,162, compared with 27,766 in 2016/17, and 22,581 in 2015/16.

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Parents are also being urged to keep a closer eye on their children during the upcoming school holidays, which is when a majority of trespass incidents occur.

Jay Thompson, Greater Anglia’s train service delivery director, said: “Safety is our priority on the railway.

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“Stepping on to the tracks could result in life-changing injuries or death.

“We encourage people to be vigilant and take care when they are close to the railway. “Sometimes people do not realise they are trespassing – they may think they are taking a shortcut home, but in fact they are putting their safety at risk.

“This behaviour can also cause delays and cancellations to services.

“We work hard to run a punctual and reliable railway, and trespassers hinder this by being on near the line.”

Greater Anglia said Land Sheriffs and Rail Pastors also patrol parts of the network to help people with their journeys and prevent people from going on the tracks.

Rupert Lown, Network Rail’s director of safety for Anglia, said: “It may seem harmless to take a shortcut, or fun to play on the tracks, but this is not only illegal, it is also very dangerous.

“The dangers may not always be obvious and fast trains are often silent until they are so close that you will not get out of the way in time.

“Taking a short cut or messing around on the tracks is just not worth the risk.”

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