Pedestrians are risking injury or death by taking shortcuts and climbing over fencing at Grays level crossing, Network Rail and Thurrock Council have warned.

In the last six months, more than 260 incidents have been recorded. People have been seen by CCTV jumping off the platform, walking along the tracks to the crossing to exit the station or entering the station through the crossing and then coming on to the platform.

Others have damaged the barrier railings making them wide enough for a young child to squeeze through. CCTV footage also shows pedestrians jumping the fencing at the end of the platform, jumping the level crossing barriers when they are down or trying to beat them.

Network Rail, Thurrock Council and the British Transport Police have joined forces to raise awareness of safety in and around level crossing in an attempt to reduce the number of incidents.

While the majority of people using the crossing are using it safely, a small minority are still persistently ignoring safety measures in and around the crossing.

Steve Cassidy, Network Rail area director, said: “It may be tempting to shave a minute or two off your journey but this a busy main line and people are putting their lives at risk by walking on the track or trying to beat the barriers.

“Some people may think that taking a shortcut along the tracks isn’t really a risk, that they can get out of the way of the train but fatality figures show that isn’t the case. Waiting at a crossing can sometimes be frustrating but ignoring safety measures can result in tragic consequences, something we want to prevent.

“Over the next few weeks, we will be working with the council and the police by stepping up patrols, leafleting the area and holding a dedicated awareness day to reduce the number of incidents.

“However, if this situation continues we may have to seriously consider closing the level crossing as a last resort. The level of risk that people are putting themselves in is simply too high.”

Council leader Councillor John Kent said: “Network Rail has made it clear that – as a last resort – they may have to close the crossing, simply shut it down. I do not want that to happen. But everyone who uses it must play their part too.

“It’s not right that a service available to thousands of local people is being threatened by a thoughtless minority, but Network Rail say they cannot accept the level of risk being taken and I’m with them on that. We cannot afford one life lost or one person in hospital because of their own, or more likely, somebody else’s stupidity.”

Inspector Mark Hook from British Transport Police said: “Deliberate misuse of crossings endangers lives. BTP has already taken action against a number of trespassers at Grays, and we will not hesitate to take action against others.

“Is it really worth risking a criminal record, or even your life, just to save a few minutes on your journey?”

c2c Managing Director Julian Drury said: "Over 100 c2c trains use this level crossing every day. Every time that someone abuses this crossing they are taking a senseless risk with their own lives and quite possibly those of others too."

Network Rail has increased security at the crossing in recent weeks and will have staff on hand to prevent further incidents, as well as stepping up scrutiny of the CCTV images. However, this is not sustainable in the long-term. Additional signs will also be placed at the crossing warning of the dangers.

Cllr Kent added: “We need people to be sensible and vigilant. If they see stupidity or wrongdoing make sure somebody in authority is aware of it – there will be a CCTV image.

“Do not risk your life on the crossing and don’t let anyone else risk it either. Level crossings are by their very nature, dangerous places and that’s why we’re working so hard to find the finance for a subway there.”

Between July 2014 and February 2015, 26 trespass offences were recorded in and around the station by the British Transport Police. Network Rail is working with Thurrock Council to find a long-term solution for the level crossing and is carrying out feasibility study into replacing this level crossing with a subway.

On Friday, March 6, Network Rail, the council and the police will be at the crossing talking to members of the public about the importance of level crossing safety.