RAILWAY trespassers on the main line between Port Talbot and Bridgend are being warned to stay off the tracks – or face the consequences.
Following a number of incidents in recent weeks, British Transport Police (BTP) have issued a warning on the dangers of straying onto the railway.
Officers are also conducting a two-week operation that will see an increased police presence in the area, and ongoing work to combat the menace.
Sergeant Steve Dawkins, who is heading up the initiative, said: “Despite work that we have been undertaking in the area with Network Rail, there has been an increase in problematic behaviour, and we have had reports of trespass, stone throwing and anti-social behaviour.
“I am extremely concerned that it is only a matter of time before someone is seriously injured or even killed,” he added.
“This is a particularly busy line, with frequent passenger services running between Swansea and London, as well as local services and freight trains.
“Trains regularly travel through Pyle in excess of 100mph – at that speed, it will take a train two kilometres, or the length of 20 football pitches, to come to a stop.
“Sadly, we have already seen fatalities in this area as a result of people trespassing, and neither I nor any other officer wants to have to tell another family that their son or daughter won’t be coming home.”
Among a number of worrying recent incidents was a report of a child running in front of a train at Pyle and a laser pen being shone at a train driver. Stones have also been thrown at services in Taibach and Pyle.
Sergeant Dawkins said: “These are extremely worrying incidents that could have had dire consequences. Shining a laser at the cab of a train causes an obvious distraction to the driver and can have serious safety consequences, as the driver’s attention is averted from their job of safely controlling the train.
“In response to these recent incidents, a proactive operation has been put together that will see officers out and about across the area, patrolling stations and on trains, and speaking to young people about the dangers.
“This is part of a long-term strategy to combat route crime. We will be conducting ongoing work via our Neighbourhood Policing Team (NPT), who will be working alongside South Wales Police’s local NPT to continue to educate youngsters and take action where necessary.”
One 13-year-old has already been dealt with for trespass and stone throwing, and Sergeant Dawkins said officers would not hesitate to take action against other offenders.
“Ideally, we don’t want to catch anyone trespassing or placing lives in danger by messing around on the railway,” he said.
“However, if you are caught deliberately obstructing the railway or trespassing on the tracks and endangering people’s safety, we will do everything in our power to prosecute you and put you before the courts, with the maximum penalty being life imprisonment.
“My message is simple – stay safe and stay out of trouble by staying off the tracks.”
You can report trespass and anti-social behaviour by contacting British Transport Police on Freefone 0800 405040 or Crimestoppers, anonymously, on 0800 555 111. In an emergency always dial 999.