A REWARD of £1,000 is being offered to catch thugs who tried to derail a train in Ellesmere Port.
Network Rail is offering the cash to anyone who can help trace the yobs who carried out a three-day spate of life-threatening vandalism over the Easter holiday.
And a rail spokesman, who warned that the vandals could end up killing someone one day, called for them to be jailed for a long time, possibly for life.
At different times on Easter Saturday, Sunday and Monday, a group of five youths were seen to push coping stones off the top of the bridge parapet on Overpool Road outside the station on to the railway tracks below.
On Saturday the driver of the 2.34pm train from Ellesmere Port actually hit one of the stones.
Fortunately, the impact knocked the stone clear of the line and the train sustained only minor damage.
On Monday one train driver stopped to remove more coping stones from the tracks.
He then came under fire from the youths who threw stones at him from the bridge above before riding away on bikes.
In an attempt to stop this 'dangerous' activity, Network Rail contractors removed the remaining coping stones from the vandalised side of the bridge.
But that didn't stop the youths, who started taking them from the other side of the bridge.
Network Rail spokesman Keith Lumley said the problem is so bad the company is offering the reward for any information that leads to the successful identification and prosecution of those responsible.
He added: 'They are pushing heavy stones that normally finish off the top of a wall in a deliberate attempt to derail a train.
'We have got to stop this kind of activity and those responsible need to realise they face anything up to and including life imprisonment for what they are doing.'
Anyone with information is urged to contact either British Transport Police on 0800 405040 or Crimestoppers on 0800 555111. Both calls are free and information given to Crimestoppers can be left anonymously.