A STARK warning has been issued after the operators of the Swanage Railway service caught people trespassing on the line in two separate incidents.

The heritage service is currently suspended due to the coronavirus pandemic but the railway line is still being used to carry out maintenance and inspection work.

Last week, Swanage Railway staff dealt with two cases of trespassing. Both incidents happened on the outskirts of Swanage, with the culprits given words of advice before being told to leave railway property.

Anyone found trespassing on the Swanage Railway risks a fine of £1,000.

Liz Sellen, chairman of the Swanage Railway Company, said: “The public should never trespass on the Railway because it is a dangerous place. The safety of the public, and our staff, is our primary concern.

“Our stations may be closed because of coronavirus, but inspection and maintenance trains – including the movement of plant and equipment – are running on the line at any time.

She added: “Trespassing on the Swanage Railway is an offence at anytime and not just during the current coronavirus pandemic."

The reported incidents in Swanage come as new figures showed trespassing on Britain’s railways increased by more than a quarter during the coronavirus lockdown.

Network Rail said there were 1,024 incidents recorded between March 23 and April 26, compared with 818 during the equivalent period last year.

Allan Spence, Network Rail head of public and passenger safety, said: “These figures are disappointing.

“Trespass is often seen as a young person problem but less than a fifth of the trespass incidents recorded in lockdown involved youngsters.

“Adults are far more likely to be the ones putting themselves in harm’s way.

“In addition to the many life-threatening dangers on the railway, trespass has a significant impact on the smooth running of rail services until the culprits can be found.

“It interrupts vital freight transport and delays those workers who have to travel.”

As reported, Swanage Railway has suspended its services because of coronavirus. A Save Our Service (S.O.S.) appeal has been launched to financially assist the heritage line during this time.

So far more than £150,000 has been raised towards the target of £360,000 set by supporters, who fear the line could become another economic victim of Covid-19.