“STAY off the tracks before a serious accident happens”. That is the warning from volunteers at Swindon and Cricklade Railway.

They say they are constantly seeing adults and children crossing the railway tracks as a short cut into fields near Mouldon Hill.

Vice-chairman Dave Peacey said the problems were mainly happening on the southern side of the track.

“It is just sheer stupidity,” he said.“People come out from behind the hedges, which means the drivers have to slam the brakes on, but what people don’t seem to realise is that if the trains are travelling at 10 miles an hour it can take 100 metres to stop – there’s no way they can stop any sooner.

“It’s an endless problem and we have got it all the time but it is probably only a handful of people who are doing it.

“We need to catch them and, if we do, we will be prosecuting because it is a criminal offence.”

In a bid to end the problem, the volunteers have put up wire fencing and warning signs but say trespassers have cut the fencing down and smashed the signs in a bid to cut a few minutes off their journey.

Chairman Brian Pound said: “We see people walking dogs along the lines, lifting bikes over the fence and cycling along, holding their children’s hands and crossing the lines. “We haven’t prosecuted anyone yet, but if we can catch them we will.

“We need to take a stand, we’d rather prosecute someone than somebody get killed.”

Dave said: “We have to think of our crews. If something did happen, it would prey on their minds forever, but it wouldn’t be their fault.

“We travel that section of track all the time.

“At weekends we are up and down every hour, but we also go down there a lot for maintenance reasons so it is in use 24 hours a day.

“I know when people moved into the homes that back on to the railway, it was in their deeds that a railway ran along the back of their gardens so if they didn’t like us being there, they shouldn’t have bought the houses.