AN urgent warning has been issued to parents and carers to know where their children are as schools remain closed due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Network Rail has warned the region's parents of the "horrendous" consequences for children and their families who have trespassed onto the region's railway tracks in the last few months.

Last year, it said 109 cases of trespass were recorded on tracks in County Durham while a quarter of national trespass incidents reportedly involved youths.

Network Rail said it was "worried" that school closures could see a potential increase in the number of recorded instances of trespass on the North-East's rail network.

Allan Spence, head of public and passenger safety at Network Rail said: “The Easter holidays are the start of the peak for railway trespass and with schools now closed for an extended period.

"I’m really, really worried that the railway will become an irresistible but catastrophic playground for too many children.

“Each year, we see hundreds of people taking risks on and around the railway, resulting in tragic consequences and life-changing injuries.

“Please talk to your children, access our free school railway safety lessons and help us to help save young people as we know all too well that that everyone loses when you step on the track.”

Important messages for parents and carers to share with children:

  • The rail network is never switched off. Electricity powers the overhead cables 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
  • The rail network does not go to sleep once the last passenger services have run. Freight trains run all through the night.
  • Never anticipate that you know when the next train is due. The reduced number of passenger trains running on the network during the day will allow more freight services to operate during the daytime hours, transporting vital goods around the country. A freight train can travel at up to 100mph.