Police fear someone could be seriously hurt or even killed after objects keep being put on a railway line in Leeds.
British Transport Police says there have been a spate of incidents where objects have been placed on the line between Kirkstall and Calverley.
Inspector Richard Price of BTP said: “It really is only a matter of time before a train is derailed and someone is killed.
“Why someone would place objects on the tracks in what looks like a deliberate act to cause a derailment, really is beyond me.
“I just cannot emphasise how serious this type of criminal behaviour is.”
A reward of £1,000 is being offered by Northern Rail trains for information leading to the identification and conviction of those responsible.
Over the past three weeks, six separate incidents have been reported to police where objects have been placed on the stretch of track between Kirkstall and Calverley.
On Saturday, September 15 at 1.50pm, the 1.31pm Bradford Foster Square to Leeds Northern Rail service narrowly avoided striking five troughing lids which had been put on the tracks near to Kirkstall forge in the Wyther Lane area. Police attended and searched the area to no avail.
A few hours later, at 4.30pm, a number of troughing lids were put back on the track in the same place. Trains through the area had been alerted about the previous incident and were proceeding on caution through the area. Luckily the driver of the 4.10pm Ilkley to Leeds Northern service saw the lids and stopped the train before removing them from the track.
On Tuesday, September, 18 at 7.36pm, police received reports of the 7.19pm Leeds to Ribblehead service hitting a TV which had been placed on the line near Pollard Lane in Newlay. No damage was caused to the train.
The next day, Wednesday, September 19 at 5.48pm, the 5.26pm Leeds to Ilkley service struck a metal bar which had been placed on the tracks near Calverley. Minor damage was caused to the front of the train,
The next day, at 7.20pm, the driver of the 7.02pm Leeds to Ilkley service reported seeing children placing stones on the line and hearing children’s voices in the wood near in the same area. Police attended and searched the area but no one was seen.
On Sunday, September 23 at 7.25pm, the 7.08pm Leeds to Skipton service hit tree branches which had been dragged onto the track near Pollard Lane in Newlay.
For all the reported incidents, no passengers or rail staff were injured.
Inspector Price said: “Leeds neighbourhood policing team has been undertaking high visibility patrols and house-to-house inquiries in the area to warn people of the dangers of such reckless behaviour, and to try to identify who may be responsible.
“I really can not emphasise enough how dangerous this is and I am very concerned that if we don’t find these destructive vandals someone is going to get seriously injured or even killed.
“Placing objects on the tracks is incredibly dangerous. These vandals are putting their own lives at risk by trespassing on the tracks, as well placing passengers and rail staff in danger.
“We believe that it may be children or youths who are committing these offences, and I would like to appeal to all parents or guardians in the area to ask themselves if they know where their children are playing or hanging around, and ask them to speak to their children to reinforce our messages about the dangers of such behaviour.
“We all have friends and families who travel on public transport, let’s work together to keep them safe.”
Anyone with information about the incidents should contact British Transport Police on 0800 405040 or Crimestoppers, anonymously, on 0800 555111.