THE heartbroken parents of Toni Hannant, who was killed by a train, braved the public glare yesterday to make an impassioned plea to youngsters to stay away from railway lines.

Only days after 14-year-old Toni died on the line at Blackhall Colliery, County Durham, Michael and Dawn Hannant wept as they delivered what they hope will be a life-saving message.

Sobbing uncontrollably, Mr Hannant pledged: "If I had to sit here every week and say don't go on the lines, I would - if it would save a life."

In a heart-wrenching display of courage, the Hannants, who live with their two other younger daughters and son at Eleventh Street, Blackhall Colliery, pleaded with youngsters: "Please listen when your mams and dads tell you not to go on the lines . . . Please."

The Hannants joined British Transport Police Operations Inspector Cameron Young yesterday at a Press conference at Peterlee police station.

With tears running down his face, Mr Hannant said: "I don't want this to happen again to any family. I want kids to know what happens - this is what happens. One death is one too many."

Referring to the fact that Toni had been walking alongside two friends at the time of the accident, Mr Hannant said the tragedy could have been much worse.

It was revealed that a section of the heavy-duty fencing had been removed near the East Street area of Blackhall Colliery, probably to provide a shortcut to the beach.

British Transport Police believe that only an adult could have undone the large bolts with a socket set or wrench.

In a moment of sheer devastation, Toni's father said: "We know it had to be adults. If it was an adult who took it down - you know who you are."

Describing her daughter as "always smiling and always joking", Mrs Hannant said everyone had loved Toni.

And choking with emotion, Mr Hannant added: "Don't let this happen again."

Toni, a pupil at Wellfield School, was struck by a 60mph passenger train at about 6.30pm last Friday, as she walked next to the main rail line between Newcastle and Middlesbrough.

Moments before the accident, the carefree teenager had been laughing and singing with friends.

Her headteacher, Jennifer Elliott, described her as a quiet and hard-working pupil, and a good friend to many youngsters.

The accident comes only eight months after two boys, aged 14 and 15, died when they were struck by a train at Five Arches, in Darlington.

The Easter tragedy prompted The Northern Echo to launch its No Messin' campaign, run in conjunction with Network Rail, warning of the dangers of playing on railway lines and to highlight alternative activities for teenagers.

Investigations into the latest accident are continuing.

An inquest into Toni's death was opened and adjourned yesterday at Chester-le-Street Magistrates' Court.