Trespass upon the Railway continues to be a problem which both the Churnet Valley Railway (1992) PLC ‘CVR and Network Rail ‘NR’ are working hard to eliminate.
The national lockdowns have increased the amount of trespass to such an extent that at some points in the day, areas around Leekbrook Junction resemble more an afternoon stroll in the park than a railway.
We find it necessary again to reiterate that despite certain inciting comments by some locals on various social media platforms – trespass upon the Railway is a Criminal Offence. Prescriptive rights do not arise on a statutory railway. The Railway line is ‘not abandoned’ or ‘disused’. Ordnance Survey have in fact updated their maps to reflect this error. Staffordshire County Council signs are in the process of being updated accordingly.
Some trespassers seem to think that the only danger is from trains. In fact, this is one of many dangers. If you trip, slip or fall on a piece of railway track and are unfortunate to hit your head on a rail, there is a good chance you will be knocked unconscious. This is a real risk - trains or not.
We find it incredulous that adults are actively encouraging children to trespass. What sort of example this sets we struggle to understand. Recent trespass activities have included a horse and rider taking a stroll, a family who all crossed over a gate including with their toddler and also a metal detectorist who came equipped with detector and spade.
The entirety of Leekbrook Junction and the Cauldon Lowe Branch is leased to the CVR by NR. It is for this reason that NR are taking a close look at the issues at Leekbrook Junction. A concerned local has also made a complaint to both NR and the Office of Road & Rail (our regulator). This complaint has been acted upon and a series of changes are currently being implemented.
These changes include extra fences, extensions to existing fencing, high-definition CCTV, and the closure of unauthorised footpaths. CVR has always tried to work with the local community as was evident when we opened the Cauldon Lowe branch however recent activities including damage to our signalling and safety equipment cannot be tolerated.