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Vandalism and trespass

Vandalism and trespass on the railway is not only reckless, but can cause delays. Here’s what we’re doing to prevent it

If you see someone trespassing on the railway, please call British Transport Police (BTP) on 0800 40 50 40, text 61016 or dial 999.

Trespassing on the railway is dangerous, risking trespassers’ lives and endangering train passengers and crew.

For this reason, when we see someone trespassing, we have to stop all trains in the vicinity to make sure everyone is kept safe. This not only delays nearby trains, but also has a knock-on effect on trains across the network.

Certain parts of the railway, including stations, underpasses and level crossings, are open to the public. But when people go onto the tracks, embankments or other areas, they are trespassing.

When people trespass on the railway and vandalise our property, we need to repair any damage and make sure the railway is safe before allowing trains to run again. This causes delays for passengers. Vandalism includes graffiti, litter, fly-tipping and damage to fences, signs and tracks.

How we work with communities to promote safety

  • Our community safety teams work hard – particularly in trespassing hotspots – to make more people aware of the dangers of trespass on the railway.
  • Where there are known hotspots, we work with the train companies locally to create action plans.
  • We install fences that make it more difficult to access the railway.
  • We run safety campaigns with schools, charities, local councils and the British Transport Police (BTP) focusing on the two groups of people most likely to trespass: teenagers and those in their early 20s. In the 10 years up to July 2016, just fewer than half of those killed while trespassing on the railway were under 25 years old. Almost 170 young people lost their lives trespassing in the same period.
  • We run safety campaigns to reach young people directly, and provide resources for teachers and parents.
  • We partner with the BTP to encourage people to report incidents of trespassing and vandalism. If you see someone trespassing on the railway, call 0800 40 50 40 or 999, or text 61016.

Cable theft

Cable theft is a particular type of vandalism that causes major problems and costs us millions of pounds each year. Because Britain’s rail network is designed to ‘fail safe’, trains are immediately brought to a standstill when a cable is cut. This protects passenger and train crew safety but can lead to long and frustrating delays while the problem is found and fixed safely.

How we’re tackling cable theft and helping to minimise disruption:

  • We’re funding BTP officers to increase their presence across the network.
  • Our CCTV alerts us when people are trespassing and supports the police in their work.
  • We’re installing new ways of securing cables and using forensic marking methods.
  • Our newly installed cables are harder to steal and easier to identify.