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Vandals run riot at railway station

ACCRINGTON railway station has been named and shamed as one of the most vandalised, crime-ridden spots in the North West.

ACCRINGTON railway station has been named and shamed as one of the most vandalised, crime-ridden spots in the North West.

Figures released this week by Network Rail list the town's station as sixth worst out of 53 troublespot railway stations in the region.

A total of 45 incidents are detailed at the station, including hazards being placed on the tracks, missiles thrown at passing trains and trespassing on the lines.

Inspector Michael Sutton, of British Transport Police, said the offences were all very serious and could easily have resulted in the derailing of trains.

He said: "Everybody should be aware that placing objects on the tracks could have catastrophic consequences, the likes of which we have seen in disasters near London and around the country."

He added that those responsible were risking their own lives, as well as those of passengers and staff.

Network Rail has published the figures from information collated between 2002 and 2004. A spokesman for the firm, which owns and operates Britain's railway infrastructure, said 90 per cent of the crimes were committed by youngsters aged from eight to 16.

In response, the company has launched a campaign to highlight the problem and steer juveniles away from criminal activity on railway lines.

Inspector Sutton went on: "Child trespass is, and has been for many years, an area where considerable effort has been targeted, particularly through education, to dissuade children from going onto the infrastructure. Despite this, there are still child fatalities each year."

The campaign's launch coincides with the start of school summer holidays, which is the peak time for crime on the railways.

Network Rail is urging parents to keep children off the tracks and is sending a powerful video to every secondary school in Britain about the death of a 15-year-old who died playing on the railway.

Alex Pilling, Network Rail's external liaison officer, said: "We must make young people sit up and take notice of the dangers and foolishness of using the railway as a playground."

"The consequences can be harsh, from being frog-marched home by the police to face angry parents, to hefty fines, imprisonment and possibly even serious injury or death."

The Accrington figures are broken down into: Trespass, 21; objects on track, seven; missiles thrown at trains, 17.


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