Monday 16 Feb 2009


Region & Route:
Wales & Western: Western
| Wales & Western
The public has been invited to have their say on Network Rail’s proposals to beat railway crime at one of West Country’s top ten rail crime hotspots.

A series of exhibitions will be held on 17 – 19 February 2009 at the Bath Central Library, where the public can share their views on and support for the design options available to fence off trespassers and vandals at Sydney Gardens.

In the last three years, there were a total of 95 reported incidents of trespass – at least one incident had occurred every other week. Last year, nearly half of the incidents involved children or young people and in one occasion, a group of youths were spotted trespassing and placing an object on the track.

The low wall that separates the track and the garden has enabled trespassers and vandals to access the railway easily. There is also the issue of people sitting on the wall and dangling their feet over it, putting themselves at risk of being dragged under by oncoming high speed trains that travel at 40mph on average.

Despite previous efforts to stamp out railway crimes in the area, additional deterrence is considered vital and this decision is backed by the West Country Community Safety Partnership Group, Office of Rail Regulation and British Transport Police.

The following options will be presented at the exhibition and they will be specially designed to respect the heritage of the structure and the gardens.

1. Install railings to the existing wall to increase the height of boundary.

2. Install park-side fencing alongside the wall so that no alteration to the existing wall is required.

3. Build a ditch and install fencing on the inner side at ground level, plants will be used to obscure the fences.

Alan Milne, community safety manager for Network Rail said, “While considering the historical significance of this area, it is equally, if not more, important to take into account the thousands of people that travel through this route every day. These sessions will help us understand what the public thinks and find an acceptable solution that will also help us tackle railway crimes. We take safety issues extremely seriously and doing nothing will not be an option as it means we are waiting for disaster to happen.”

Nicholas Coombes, Councillor for Bathwick, said, "I am glad that Network Rail are consulting on these plans. Getting the balance between safety improvements and protecting the history of the park will be very difficult. Involving local residents and the council like this will give Network Rail the best chance of getting the balance right."

Besides using methods such as erecting fences to deter railway crime, Network Rail has also engaged the public, especially young people, through schools and community groups to get the safety messages across.

Besides using methods such as erecting fences to deter railway crime, Network Rail has also engaged the public, especially young people, through schools and community groups to get the safety messages across.

The exhibitions will be held from 10am – 6pm at Bath Central Library (above Waitrose) for three days, starting from 17 February.

Public may also contact Network Rail’s helpline on 08457 114141 or email to ask for more information or submit their feedback.

Notes to editors

1. Trespassing on the railway is a criminal offence which carries a fine of up to £1,000. A child of 10 years or older in England and Wales can be prosecuted by the police. A child of 12 years or older can be sent to a residential care unit. Putting objects on the tracks (like rocks or shopping trolleys) could cause a train accident which may hurt or kill other people. The maximum penalty for causing a train accident is life imprisonment. If a child is charged with causing a train accident, then a parent/guardian may be prosecuted by the police too. 2. Network Rail has a duty of care under sections 2 & 3 of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 to manage risks to its employees and others affected by its operations. Employees of Network Rail are not allowed to go onto the track while the line is in operation as there is insufficient space between the track and the wall for them to stand clear of an oncoming train. 3. Both Sydney Gardens and the retaining walls are listed. A planning application and/or Landowners Consent and a listed building application may be required for work to be carried out at the site.

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