Children are being warned to stay away from Metro tracks as the summer holidays get underway.
Nexus, the public body which owns and manages the Tyne and Wear Metro, has issued the safety warning as the summer break begins.
Metro trains travel at speeds of up to 50mph and mainline trains much faster - and a train cannot swerve to miss someone in its path.Nexus Youth Liaison Officer, Deborah Rodenby
The school holiday period is traditionally a time when the Metro can see a rise in instances of trespass on the system.
Nexus wants parents to warn their children about the dangers of venturing on to the Metro tracks, and what may seem like harmless fun is in fact very serious and against the law.
Nexus Youth Liaison Officer, Deborah Rodenby, said: “The railway is not a playground.
“The reality is a risk of being hit by 1,500 volts of electricity.
“Metro trains travel at speeds of up to 50mph and mainline trains much faster - and a train cannot swerve to miss someone in its path.
“It is vital we educate young people of the importance of railway safety and how to act responsibly while they using public transport.”
The stark safety warning comes just a week after a youngster was killed after trespassing on railway lines in York.
Every year Nexus visits hundreds of schools across Tyne and Wear to promote railway safety.
Since April the company has spoken to more than 7,000 children to get across the safety message, covering issues of trespass, level crossing safety, the consequences of throwing stones at trains, good behaviour when travelling, respect for other passengers and the dangers of walking close to lines.
As well as warning young people about dangers of railways Nexus also stresses the need for good platform safety when children are out and about.
It is important that children know where to go if they ever feel unsafe or in trouble. One of the biggest messages of all is to tell someone where you are going and when you will be home.
In December 2014 Nexus successfully completed an £800,000 project to improve safety at Metro level crossings – including the introduction of warning lights for pedestrians.
Five level crossings, which are maintained by Nexus, received a series of safety upgrades as part of the £389m Metro: all change modernisation programme.
One of the most significant improvements is the new warning lights on pedestrian crossings. These turn red to alert pedestrians that a Metro train is approaching.
Deborah said: “Young people also need to learn to treat level crossings with respect – by looking both ways, making sure they can hear an oncoming train and walking swiftly to the other side.“Don’t get distracted by things like headphones or mobile phones.
“Respect level crossings and give them your full attention. All trains sound a horn as they approach crossings, which should act as a warning to anyone about to cross.”
Metro has five ungated road crossings on its network on Tyneside and a number of footpaths which crossing lines. There are also gated level crossings on the shared line to Sunderland.
Deborah added: “Ungated crossings are not in themselves dangerous, as long as people follow simple safety rules when using them.
“I hope this makes young people think twice about their behaviour and saves a life or prevents someone suffering serious injury.
“Many young people don’t appreciate the risks involved if they do trespass on Metro as there are many hidden dangers.
“Anyone who is caught trespassing can face a fine of up to £1,000.
“The message is quite clear – keep your children away from Metro tracks or face the consequences, one way or another.”
For more information go to www.nexus.org.uk/schools.