NETWORK Rail staff have received training from a charity in a bid to tackle webbed feet trespassers on tracks.

The railway company teamed up with swan charity, The Swan Sanctuary, after seeing up to "20 visits from swans each year", putting the birds in danger if they touch the third rail carrying 750 volts.

This can cause lengthy delays while staff safely remove the animals from the track.

It is hoped Network Rail staff will no longer have to wing it when removing the swans and it could slash train delays.

Head of operations delivery at Network Rail Wessex, Clyde Howarth, said: “We’ve seen a rise in visits from our feathered friends and, as they have a reputation for being aggressive, we wanted to provide new starters with some training as the staff will need to know how to handle swans on a track which carries 750 volts.

“Our goal is to safely remove the swan from the track as quickly as possible, so that train services can start running again.”

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One of the members of staff who already attended the training was local operations manager, James Sinclair.

He said: “It was a really useful course which provided some tips and techniques on how to pick up swans safely.

“I know that if I come across a swan on the track, I feel confident I’ll be able to use the training so that I can remove the swan and take it to a safe place away from the live rail.”

Head of training at The Swan Sanctuary, Sally Thompson, said: “We’re only too happy to provide the skills to enable Network Rail staff to safely remove the swans from danger to a place of safety.

“We look forward to assisting Network Rail with their swan related issues in the future.”