Sparks flying from trains along the Severn Valley Railway line have seen a rise in the number of fires that Hereford and Worcester Fire and Rescue Service have dealt with over the past year.

 Fourty-one fires were recorded between April and July, over two a week and significantly up on the same period last year.

At a recent meeting of the service's policy and resources committee, fire officials noted that the increase in call-outs was putting a strain on firefighters, but group commander Keith Chance said:

"We were quick to identify this increase and a number of positive measures are already in place to reduce incidents of this type."

Dry weather over the summer means that sparks caused when engines are overheated, often on arrival or departure from stations, is increasingly setting fire to trackside vegetation.

David Mee, Severn Valley Railway's visitor services manager, said "We don't want to be pyromaniacs but one or two [drivers] might put more chuff into their departure from a station or when restarting from signals if they are running late and are trying to get somewhere quicker. 

"In those situations it can cause sparks. Engines do have spark arresters which stop most of it but it can't stop it all." 

The fire service are hoping that cutting back vegetation and running less carriages will reduce the risks of sparking, but also want drivers to get more training on the risks of trackside fires. 

Fire crews across the country have also been affected by the problem with firefighters in York, Peterborough and Nottingham all called out to deal with trackside fires in recent weeks.