Figures from a Freedom of Information (FoI) request have highlighted the blight of graffiti on the UK’s railway network.
The information obtained from the British Transport Police (BTP) reveals the incidences of this type of vandalism reported on London Underground and National Rail trains since 2007, as well as the reasons why BTP’s Graffiti Unit was disbanded.
Vandalism on the railway network is costly, is reckless and can cause delays for passengers along the way.
This can come in the form of litter, fly tipping, damage to fences, signs and tracks.
At at time when Network Rail is embarking on its largest ever investment in the railway, the organisation certainly doesn’t need the added cost of paying for removal of graffiti.
However, this is an inevitability, given the number of incidents recorded since 2007, which highlights the organisation’s need for removal specialists.
Network Rail remove graffiti at Britain’s major stations, including London Euston, Manchester Piccadilly, Liverpool Lime Street, and Glasgow Central.
It is costly, with Network Rail estimating an annual outlay of £3.5 million, which could be spent on upgrading railway infrastructure.
For London Underground, the costs are even higher, estimated at a minimum of £10 million a year.
The problem of graffiti shows no signs of abating either; the freedom of information request from BTP explains that its Graffiti Unit was “amalgamated into a streamlined investigative structure,” as part of a restructuring in April 2017.
The request, from July 2017, shows the frequency of graffiti vandalism for each month since 2007.
It reveals that, in the first six months of last year, the frequency of graffiti reported on National Rail trains was higher each month than the corresponding ones in 2016.
On the London Underground, the figures in 2016 and 2017 were broadly similar. Overall, there were 458 incidences of graffiti on the London Underground and National Rail combined between January and June last year.
For their part, Network Rail use a number of methods to prevent this happening, one of which is the technologies that many organisations provide to help with the problem.
It shows there are a need for organisations and their specialist services.