Monday 14 Jul 2003


Region & Route:
| Wales & Western: Wales & Borders
| Wales & Western: Western
| Wales & Western
The ‘Eye in the Sky’ helicopter used by Network Rail, with the support of British Transport Police, has caught two youths on the railway line in the Reading area.  Following a train driver’s report of trespassers on the tracks between Reading West and Southcote Junction last Thursday evening (10 July), the helicopter was used to film the two youths before landing in an adjacent field, where the pair were apprehended by the police. The helicopter regularly patrols the Great Western region as part of an initiative, codenamed Operation Skyhawk, which aims to catch trespassers as well as deter youngsters from straying near the tracks during the school holidays. Fully equipped with a 360 degree zoom camera with thermal imaging, the ‘eye in the sky’ tracks intruders from above while the police are called. Should anyone be caught on camera, either trespassing or vandalising railway property, then video evidence will be made available to the courts. Research shows that young teenagers cause much of the damage to tracks and the number of incidents of railway crime often increases during the school holidays. - more - Helicopter – 2 Graham Wells, Operations Delivery Manager for Network Rail in the Reading area said: “Across the rail industry, route crime is recognised as a serious threat to safety and we are determined to work hard to reduce it.  The railway is not a playground but some people put their lives and the lives of others in danger by trespassing on the tracks.  They also cost the rail industry millions of pounds in damage to the infrastructure and in service delays. “I would urge anyone who sees anything suspicious on railway property to report it to the free 24-hour hotline number on 0800 40 50 40.” The use of the ‘eye in the sky’ is one of a number of initiatives designed to reduce the number of criminal incidents on the railways. Other schemes at work include: ·        Ongoing fencing programme ·        Football in the Community – Network Rail has teamed up with several clubs in the Midlands and the West to raise the profile of rail safety in hot spot locations ·        Use of closed circuit television cameras at key railway crime locations. Also use of mobile CCTV cameras ·        The ‘Thunderbird’ loco, with Network Rail and British Transport Police on board, patrols crime hotspots in the region ·        A dedicated schools’ liaison officer who visits schools to warn of the dangers of trespass ·        Leaflet drops to homes and shops in hotspot areas

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