THE number of people trespassing on railway lines across West Dunbartonshire has tripled in just two years.
Figures from Network Rail and British Transport Police (BTP) showed reports nationally were at an all-time high in Scotland and one person risks their lives every hour in the UK.
The number of incidents in West Dunbartonshire – recorded only as Dalmuir and not more specifically – hit 21 in 2016, up from 15 the year before and just nine in 2014.
West Dunbartonshire also recorded one person under the age of 18 trespassing last year while Glasgow recorded six.
Overall, Scottish trespassing was up 16 per cent in a year and could just be the “tip of the iceberg”, said BTP.
Officials warned the figures jumped with spring and summer school holidays, and said youth trespass is worse in areas with higher deprivation. Network Rail is now working with the charity Barnardo’s to focus safety education in areas where rates are higher.
Simon Constable, head of route safety at Network Rail Scotland, 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. The dangers may not always be obvious but the electricity on the railway is always on and trains can travel up to 125 miles per hour, so even if they see you, they can’t stop in time.
“As the railway gets busier and we electrify more lines to improve services, we must work harder to keep young people safe by making them aware of the dangers.
“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. Taking a short cut or messing around on the tracks can result in serious life-changing injuries or death.”
A schools engagement programme is also planned across the UK.
Superintendent David Marshall, from British Transport Police, said: “We believe the number of children we encounter trespassing every year is sadly, just the tip of the iceberg.
“Every single day we are called to the tracks because a train driver has had to sound their horn or apply their emergency brake in a desperate bid to avoid youths on the line, who then run off, seemingly unaware of the danger they have put themselves in. “We continue to do all we can to keep youngsters safe by patrolling areas where we know they’re likely to trespass and prevent them from doing so. However, we cover thousands of miles of track and we cannot tackle this issue alone. “That is why we are urging parents and young people to heed this warning and take a reality check when it comes to trespass. It’s not a game: they are real tracks, with real trains and real-life consequences.”