TRAIN operators were paid almost £600,000 in compensation after a man trespassed on the East Coast Main Line, on Durham Railway Viaduct, in mid-afternoon on a summer day.

Durham Crown Court was given the full cost of Michael Derek Langley’s trespass on the line as he appeared via video link from Holme House Prison, Stockton, having previously admitted causing an obstruction of an engine on the railway.

The court was told Langley walked off the southern end of the southbound platform at Durham Railway Station, ignoring signs warning the public was not allowed beyond that point, at 3.34pm on August 22.

Paul Cross, prosecuting, said he wandered onto the viaduct and demanded the attendance of the press, threatening to jump if police intervened.

All rail movements were stopped on the line, between Durham and Darlington, part of the main East Coast route, between London and Edinburgh.

Police negotiators attended and persuaded Langley to leave the line, but only after a service delay of 81 minutes.

Mr Cross said: “It caused substantial disruption on the main line, with seven trains cancelled fully, 22 partially cancelled and 91 trains delayed.”

He said to the delay amounted to a combined total of 3,442 minutes, with three diversions having to be put in place.

“Those delays meant Network Rail was obliged to pay train operators £593,000 in compensation.

“This sort of disruption, including trespass and vandalism, amounted to 12,000 acts in 2016, resulting in a loss of £48m to Network Rail and a consequential loss of that amount to the tax payer.

“This one incursion represents about a hundredth of that.”

Mr Cross said the 40-year-old defendant, of no fixed abode, admitted the obstruction charge at magistrates’ court and was sent to the crown court for sentence as it put him in breach of both his licence period after he was jailed for wounding, on March 1, and, also, of a suspended sentence imposed on February 6, for a series of theft offences.

The court heard following his arrest after the rail obstruction, Langley was recalled to prison to serve the outstanding part of the ten-month sentence for wounding and his release date is December 31.

Mr Cross said Network Rail is seeking a criminal behaviour order prohibiting Langley from entering railway stations in County Durham, except for medical and court appointments, or any land on the rail network for four years.

Susan Hirst, for Langley, said he is due to be assessed for his suitability for a mental health order in due course and so Judge Christopher Prince adjourned sentence until December 20, shortly before his scheduled release from prison.