A campaign to keep children and young adults away from railway tracks has been lauched by British Transport Police.

As many as 14 a day risk their lives and those of rail passengers and staff every year by trespassing on railways, says British Transport Police (BTP).

And more than half of all railway trespassers are aged between 14 and 25.

More trespass cases take place on summer evenings, some of which include vandalism.

Between April and June this year, BTP recorded almost 2,400 trespass incidents, of which almost 1,300 involved people aged 25 or younger.

In the coming weeks, under the banner of Operation Intruder, BTP officers will target trespassers at problematic locations.

Officers will carry out increased patrols in a bid to try to ward off would-be trespassers who either think the track is a place to hang out or commit vandalism.

BTP is enlisting the help of other police forces and the rail industry, including the use of helicopters, to report trespassers. BTP officers will also report any damage to railway property, such as broken fences, so it can be repaired, helping to stop people gaining access to the track.

Chief Inspector Tom Naughton said: “Children and young adults need to understand the dangers of the railway – that’s the message from British Transport Police as our officers spend the next two months targeting trespassers across the network.

“While taking trespassers through the courts remains open to BTP, the main focus of this campaign is prevention – stopping people getting on the track in the first place.

“Our officers have already visited a number of schools to warn children, face-to-face, of the dangers of straying onto the railway.

“We need parents to play their part, too – making children aware of how dangerous a place the railway can be.”

Three incidents last month highlight the dangers of playing on the line:

• In Warwickshire, a 16-year-old boy suffered serious burns at Rugby when he made contact with overhead power lines while with friends.

• A train near Ilkeston in Derbyshire hit a concrete block on the track. Police believe it was put there by a group of children seen nearby. Luckily, no-one on the train was injured.

• In Essex, BTP was alerted to three children dawdling on a crossing at Westcliffe-on-Sea. A BTP schools liaison officer has spoken to the children.