From station vandalism and office break-ins, to anti-social behaviour and acts of violence, the British Transport Police are having to deal with a growing number of cases of railway-related crimes across the UK. Furthermore, it’s been reported that cable thefts rose by a shocking 85% last year, causing record levels of train delays and costing the taxpayer millions – a problem rooted in the buoyant price of metal and poor compliance with the laws relating to scrap-metal dealing.
Local authorities and police forces simply don’t have enough financial support and resources to eliminate railway crime. What, therefore, are the best solutions in dealing with the surge in railway incidents?
Protecting against rail disruption
The scale of the problem shouldn’t be underestimated. Cable theft by itself has a hugely negative impact on the economy, causing freight delays to power stations and supermarkets, and frustrating passengers who miss work and vital appointments. Thieves target signalling cables and overhead power lines, which disrupt the normal day-to-day operation of trains; a situation made worse by other types of railway thefts, such as attacks on station offices and stealing from station shops.
Railway fencing should be the first line of defence since its main objective, along with marking boundaries, is to stop trespassing on the line. However, as the risks and threats have changed through the years, so have the security measures that are required. Network Rail was recently criticised for inadequate fencing that meant two ‘train surfers’ could get onto the tracks before being fatally electrocuted.
Most railway tracks are kept secure using a cheap and poor-quality fence such as steel palisade. Unfortunately, this can be easily penetrated using basic tools; furthermore, it can be compromised without leaving a trace that a breach had taken place. Thankfully, there are more effective solutions available today.
The importance of high quality fencing
As railways cover vast areas of land, the key is to improve security in rural locations, which can be done efficiently. These are areas which are at higher risk as there is a reduced likelihood for criminals getting caught.
If you are installing fencing as a security measure, it’s vital to specify a product that is guaranteed to last a long time: there is no point investing in a poorly manufactured fence that will corrode quickly, becoming susceptible to breaches within a few years. Furthermore, the eventual cost of replacing the entire fence once it has been penetrated would be much higher than paying for a superior, robust solution in the first instance.
Steel palisade was mentioned earlier as an inadequate solution. It’s certainly an economical option, but it’s also made from low-quality steel that often leads to issues with finish and rust. Along with the higher maintenance costs in the long term, steel palisade is aesthetically unpleasing and can create a fortress-like appearance. Jacksons Fencing doesn’t manufacture or sell any type of steel palisade fencing as we do not feel it offers an acceptable standard of security: the width of pales is wide and can impede surveillance tools such as CCTV, and rivets and bolts can be easily removed without leaving a clear indication that the perimeter has been compromised.
Instead, we offer Vertical Bar Fencing: a robust range that has stood the test of time for over a quarter of a century, providing good sight lines for surveillance while possessing anti-climb properties. For sites that require extra security, choose a Vertical Bar Fencing system that is Loss Prevention Standard (LPS) 1175-certified to Security Rating A1. This will protect your premises from an opportunist attack using tools such as knives, cable cutters, screwdrivers and hexagon wrenches (Category A hand tools) for a duration of 10 minutes.
High security and acoustic solutions
Consider an integrated CCTV strategy when installing railway fencing. CCTV and other security solutions should be put in areas identified as higher risk or in locations that are harder for security services to reach in the event of criminal activity. Careful consideration must be given to the management of the system. This includes cleaning the equipment regularly, changing the tapes, storing recordings and informing the public that they’re being recorded.
Another key solution is acoustic fencing, which is increasingly used to reduce noise on rail lines, particularly on routes that go past residential properties, and around train maintenance and repair depots. Acoustic barriers offer both noise reduction and good security: potential criminals can’t see through the fence, there are no foot or hand holds, and a high-quality timber noise barrier will be aesthetically pleasing too.
Jacksons Fencing provides acoustic solutions for a variety of applications, reducing noise levels while maintaining a natural façade. Jakoustic® Commercial and Highways Acoustic Fencing is an attractive timber structure that reflects or absorbs noise using heavy section-planed boards, reducing noise by up to 28 decibels, making it ideal for railways. All products from Jacksons Fencing are guaranteed for 25 years.
For more information on how we can secure your railway, contact us today.
Jacksons Security has a range of products relating to this article, all complete with our 25 year service life guarantee. If you cannot find the item you are looking for, please do not hesitate to call our friendly sales team.