Shocking footage showing a girl lying in the middle of a railway line where trains hurtle past at 85mph has been released as Network Rail appealed to children to keep away from the tracks.
The teenager appears to be casually using her mobile phone while another girl stands next to her, despite the dangers.
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The image – captured by CCTV at a level crossing near Horsham in West Sussex last month – has been shared by Network Rail in an effort to highlight the risks and potentially deadly consequences.
Other pictures released on Tuesday show two boys walking down the tracks at Bewbush, near Crawley.
It comes after figures released in March showed there was a 40% increase in youth trespass incidents in south-east London, Surrey and Sussex after the region emerged from the first national lockdown.
Network Rail head of route quality, health, safety and environment Vincent van der Hoeven said: “We really must get the message across to children and their parents the dangers of trespassing on the track.
“We are putting efforts into getting the message across in schools and on social media through our Parallel Lines film and You Vs Train campaign.”
Nicola Dooris, community safety manager on the South East route, said: “Unfortunately, during lockdown we have seen an increase in the numbers of young people messing about on the railway.
“On that section of track, trains often travel at 85mph and, at that speed, unlike cars, trains can take hundreds of metres to stop – a fact many young people don’t realise.
“Using CCTV like this, I’m often able to track down young people and talk to them, and I’d much rather do that than help our staff cope with the aftermath of young people being killed.”
The children, whose identities have been disguised in the CCTV pictures, have been spoken to by transport police officers, Network Rail said.