The “thoughtless and dangerous” actions of members of the public who ignored road closure signs and abused railway volunteers have been criticised.

Urgent work to repair a level crossing in Little Horsenden, which needed to be replaced after it was laid more than 60 years ago, was hampered by passers-by who ignored ‘road closed’ signs – with police being called out “several times”, according to Chinnor and Princes Risborough Railway (C&PRR).

Volunteers had taken a week’s holiday from their day jobs to complete the work during the week in a bid to avoid the weekends, when the crossing is busiest.

However, passers-by were spotted climbing over fences and gates to trespass on the site while teams were working with heavy machinery – delaying the project dramatically.

The level crossing, which is a byway – a public right of way – had to be shut off with a traffic restriction order from Bucks County Council so the work could be carried out safely on May 14.

But members of the public trespassed on the site “several times” – meaning the heavy machinery and construction equipment could not be used due to safety risks.

A spokesman for C&PRR said: “Trespass was so bad that police had to be called several times to ensure safety of volunteers from threats made by trespassers against volunteers and putting themselves at serious risk of injury.

“The railway has a duty to ensure that the public are not put at risk, even if they act foolishly and illegally.

“This delayed the carefully planned engineering project and has cost the C&PRR hard earned cash by extending hire periods for the machinery used to move 20 metre long rails and heavy concrete sleepers.

“Volunteers were repeatedly forced to suspend operations to ensure the safety if these inconsiderate people who climbed over fences and gates to trespass on the site.

“The C&PRR volunteers deeply regret the inconvenience caused to the majority of the public, who have understood the reason for the byway closure and respected it.”

The level crossing had to stay closed until May 23 so work to renew the railway tracks could be carried out.

The C&PRR is a charity that relies on regular funding from visitors and is entirely run by volunteers.