More than 8,000 people trespassed on railways across the UK in 2016 - the highest number since records began.
Network Rail and British Transport Police figures show an 11% rise in incidents to 8,265, compared with 2015.
Some 115 people have been killed on rail tracks over the past five years, with almost half of them aged under 25.
Network Rail and the police said taking a short cut was the most common reason given for trespassing, followed by thrill-seeking.
Simon Munn was one such person who took a short cut, and lost his leg as a result.
When he was 22, he trespassed over a track on the way home from the pub to avoid an extra five-minute walk to a crossing.
"As I crossed the track I got my foot caught," he said.
"I don't know how long I was there, but I heard the train coming. I couldn't move.
"Trains moving that fast can't stop in time to miss you and they can't swerve. It's too late by then."
He had to have his leg amputated and spent weeks in hospital.
"Now I really know what the cost of trespassing and taking short cuts can be.
"I was lucky it wasn't my life," added Mr Munn, who has since represented Britain at the 2012 and 2016 Paralympics in wheelchair basketball.
The number of people trespassing on tracks started being recorded in 2007.
'Too many lives lost'
Now, on average, one person commits the offence nearly every hour, according to the statistics.
Allan Spence, Network Rail's head of public and passenger safety, said there was a "huge" and "worrying" rise each year.
"Britain has the safest railway in Europe but still too many people lose their lives on the tracks," he added.
"The dangers may not always be obvious, but the electricity on the railway is always on and trains can travel up to 125mph.
"Even if they see you, they can't stop in time."