HOAX emergency alarms delayed trains by nearly three entire days last year, official figures have revealed.

Across the network in 2018 the emergency cord on Greater Anglia trains was activated without reason 219 times, causing delays of around 4,100 minutes, which is more than 68 hours or 2.85 days.

So far this year, the alarms have been activated on more than 20 occasions, the majority of which have been hoaxes or non-emergencies. The firm is warning it has been forced to crack down on this behaviour and says people who do it will be caught and prosecuted, facing a fine of up to £1,000.

Matt Wakefield, Greater Anglia’s head of safety, said: “The passenger alarm should only be used in an emergency.

“Recently, people have activated the alarm because they have fallen asleep and missed their stop, or because they simply want to get off the train.

“In one instance, a passenger pulled the cord, forced the doors open and climbed down onto the track. Not only is this dangerous, it’s also illegal.

“Pulling the passenger alarm when there is not a genuine emergency delays the train and cause knock-on delays for other services.

“We are working with British Transport Police and will prosecute people caught doing it. Anyone prosecuted could end up with a £1,000 fine.”

In October 2017, Greater Anglia and the East of England Ambulance Service NHS Trust agreed a new process if someone feels unwell on a train.

Passengers are now advised not to pull the alarm, but to wait until the next station where treatment can be provided.

If someone becomes ill on a train and it’s a life-threatening emergency, passengers should dial 999 for an ambulance.