PEOPLE walking along the tracks of Swindon’s heritage railway are putting themselves in deadly danger.

Staff and volunteers at the Swindon & Cricklade Railway have caught dogwalkers and young people on the lines during lockdown.

Now they are urging everyone not to follow in these footsteps because wrongly assuming that the line is no longer in use could have serious consequences for trespassers.

Mechanic Jake Wadley said: “Just because there are no passengers on the railway, that does not mean there are no trains. Essential maintenance and restoration work is still carrying on and our drivers are having training regularly.

“Please stay clear of the tracks.

"The last thing we want is something horrible happening because people are on the lines while the trains are running.

“We’ve seen quite a bit of trespassing over the last few months – it’s not something people should be doing.

“There was a couple we saw walking their dog not long ago. We’ve caught young people exploring, and we have had to stop a lady with a pushchair going on to the tracks.

“And this is just in the daytime when we’re on-site, it might be happening even more often at night.

“Whenever we catch people, they say they thought it was a disused line so we want to teach as many as we can that it isn’t disused.

“Bad things can happen on live railway lines – trains are much harder to stop than cars.”

Jake made a short video in a bid to make it clear that the railway line is still very much in use and that going on the tracks would be just as dangerous as trespassing on more frequently-used lines like those at Swindon Station.

Though there has been a spike in the number of trespassers spotted by SCR staff during the pandemic, it is not a new problem.

Historic train carriages and signs have been vandalised and damaged by people sneaking onto the site in the dead of night several times, with repairs to the damage costing thousands of pounds.

The most recent attack came just as lockdown began, when the Taw Valley Halt was targeted by yobs who ripped up fencing and smashed signage.

The railway operates on a short section of the old Midland and South Western Junction railway line between Swindon and Cricklade.

Events and service days have been cancelled until October, and multi-million-pound plans to extend the railway have been put on hold.