British Transport Police (BTP) is today issuing a warning about trespassing on the flood-hit railway line in Devon.
It comes after a photograph appeared on social media sites apparently showing cyclists using the tracks in the Powderham area while work continues by Network Rail to repair damage caused by severe weather earlier this month.
At this stage, it is unclear when the photograph is alleged to have been taken – or indeed if the image is genuine and has not been photoshopped or altered in any way.
Nevertheless, officers are taking the opportunity to remind the public that even though passenger train services are currently suspended as a result of the flood damage, it remains an offence to trespass on the railway line – and anyone caught doing so will be dealt with by BTP.
Sgt Dave Mannion, of BTP Exeter said: “It is still is an offence to trespass on the railway line even though no passenger services are running on this stretch of line.
“There are still a huge range of dangers associated with the line – not least the fact that engineering trains are running and heavy machinery is being used by engineers repairing the line at the moment.
“As always, I urge people to stick to recognised paths and roads and resist the temptation to use the railway line as a shortcut or a playground while the repair works are ongoing.
“We have stepped up patrols in the area and anyone found trespassing on this stretch of line will be dealt with in the same manner as when trains are running normally.
“Remember: it is an offence to trespass on the railway and if you do so, you will be caught and dealt with.”
Sgt Mannion added: “I am also appealing to parents and adults to take responsibility and emphasise the dangers to your children, and if you live near the railway, ask yourself if you know where your children are playing?
“This is not about stopping people having fun – it is about keeping them safe from harm.
“We will continue to work closely with colleagues from Devon and Cornwall Constabulary and Network Rail to monitor the rail lines in the affected area.
“My message is simple - stay safe, stay off the tracks and stay out of trouble.”
If you witness anyone trespassing on the railway, please call British Transport Police on 0800 40 50 40 or text on 61016.