There has been a sharp increase in the number of people trespassing on railways in East Anglia, according to the British Transport Police.

New figures released jointly with Network Rail revealed a record number of people are risking their lives on the rail network by trespassing on the tracks.

The data, which looks at trends over the last five years, shows trespass incidents are at all-time high in the region, while nationally one person trespasses every hour.

Last year, there were 487 incidents where people risked their lives on the rail network in East Anglia - a 27 per cent rise on the previous year.

The Cambridgeshire area accounted for 120 of those incidents last year, up from 85 in the previous year.

Research also shows young people are more likely to take a risk on the tracks, with seasonal peaks in incidents coinciding with the spring and summer school holidays.

Richard Tew, Network Rail's head of route safety for Anglia explains: "Every April we see a huge rise in the number of people taking a risk on the rail network and it's worrying that these numbers seem to be going up.

"Britain has the safest railway in Europe but still too many people lose their lives on the tracks. The dangers may not always be obvious but the electricity on the railway is always on and trains can travel up to 125 miles per hour, so even if they see you, they can't stop in time.

"As the railway gets busier and we electrify more lines to improve services, we must work harder to keep young people safe by making them aware of the dangers. It may seem harmless to take a shortcut, or fun to play on the tracks, but this is not only illegal, it is also very dangerous.

"Taking a short cut or messing around on the tracks can result in serious life-changing injuries or death."

In response to the surge in incidents and to tackle the problem of youth trespass, Network Rail has launched a schools engagement programme, which aims to teach children in trespass hotspots about railway safety. The 'Tackling Track Safety' programme will be rolled-out to more than 100 schools across Britain, using sport to educate children about the dangers across the network.

In 2016, more than 61 children were caught trespassing by police in the region, with boys aged 14 to 16 being stopped the most.

For more, log on to www.networkrail.co.uk/trespass or www.btp.police.uk/realitycheck.