Bermondsey graffiti deterrent, via Network Rail

Network Rail uses tree planting initiative to combat graffiti hotspot

Network Rail has planted 35 trees, as part of its many sustainability initiatives, at a graffiti hotspot location in London with the hopes of acting as a vandalising deterrent whilst also improving the natural habitats within the area.

This action marks the first time that Network Rail have used ecological measures such as these to prevent graffiti and vandalism. The tree planting at the Bermondsey Dive Under - a junction where one set of rail lines tunnel under another – will not only create nicer visual stimulants for passengers and local residents but will also contribute to significant cleaning cost savings. It is estimated that the graffiti at the South-East London hotspot has cost taxpayers £150,000 in cleaning and rejuvenation works over the last 2 years.

Jon Ruch, Network Rail’s head of security, route crime and resilience for the Southern region, said:

 “Our teams have been working incredibly hard over the past year or so to remove more graffiti, as we want to make the railway a more inviting place for our passengers.

“We spend around £750k per year on targeting graffiti hotspots and have cleared almost 700 sites since the start of the year right across the Southern region. Using trees to provide a screen that blocks taggers from repainting is a new approach, which is also fantastic news for the environment.

“Removing graffiti in Bermondsey has cost £150,000 over the past 2 years, and if we can stop it, that’s vital funding that we can invest into making the railway more reliable for our passengers.”

On Friday, July 1, Network Rail chairman, Sir Peter Hendy helped plant the last tree in Bermondsey with colleagues from across the railway in the Southern region.

Sir Peter commented:

“It was really good to be out with the Southern team planting trees. The security and sustainability teams have worked together with Keltbray to deliver a tree screening solution to deter future graffiti on our infrastructure. This was great to see, thanks to all involved.”

This tree planting initiative comes as part of a £1m ecological rejuvenation scheme from Network Rail Southern Region which was established in April of this year. This project aims to establish planting schemes in Kent, Sussex, south London, Surrey, and Hampshire over the next three years, working with national conservation charity The Tree Council. This initiative had targets to plant 10,000 trees and shrubs by the end of March 2022, which have already been more than doubled with thousands more expected by 2024.

Network Rail have a commitment for creating sustainability across the UK rail sector which has seen the creation of 50 new nature reserves, railway sleepers made from recycled plastics, renewable energy solutions, recycling boosts and replacing diesel fuel with vegetable oils wherever possible. Network rails car fleet is also being renovated through the introduction of zero-emission vehicles across the region, starting in London.

The UK rail sector has ambitions to dramatically cut carbon usage and become more sustainable wherever and whenever possible, with the goal of aiding in the Governments plans to achieve net-zero by 2050. Tree planting schemes such as this, as well as the other environmental initiatives will help in making small, incremental steps towards the right direction.

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Rail Technology Magazine latest edition Jun/Jul 22

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