Stop & Ex­am­ine

Rail (UK) - - Opinion -

“There’s no doubt that there’s still scrap on the rail­way, but my good­ness there is a lot less! We re­moved hun­dreds of thou­sands of tons of sleep­ers and scrap rail in my first cou­ple of years alone.

“All of the routes are con­tin­u­ing to do this - but we’ve taken on board some new work pro­cesses, too, to change the way we work so that we don’t leave work­site with scrap all over it.”

These were the words of now- de­parted Net­work Rail Chief Ex­ec­u­tive Mark Carne, in his ex­clu­sive in­ter­view with RAIL in the last is­sue.

Mean­while, some months ago we asked for your thoughts on what can be done to tidy up our rail­ways and our sta­tions - from the march of fo­liage, to the graf­fiti and the rub­bish pre­sent­ing a poor im­age of the rail­way.

“From a rail­way in­dus­try per­spec­tive, my rec­om­mended ap­proach to tidy­ing up the rail­ways in­volves a joint buy-in from those who write and award the con­tracts and those com­pa­nies that win and im­ple­ment the con­tracts,” writes Paul He­ward, from Southwick in West Sus­sex.

He sug­gests in­clud­ing ad­di­tional mile­stone pay­ments for re­mov­ing any sur­plus build­ing ma­te­rial or gen­eral rub­bish found in the im­me­di­ate area of the work, as well as for the re­moval of all graf­fiti on rail­way in­fra­struc­ture, dur­ing a safe pos­ses­sion to un­der­take the work. Pass this down to the work­ers in the form of bonus pay­ments, and you would soon see an im­prove­ment, he be­lieves.

“Just look at the Lon­don Bridge project, which pro­vides im­mense im­prove­ments but has done noth­ing to re­move the graf­fiti on the ap­proaches. Why go to all that bother and not pro­vide the fin­ish­ing touches?

“Any sur­plus build­ing ma­te­rial, rails, sleep­ers and any old equip­ment should then be sent to a re­gional lo­ca­tion for re- dis­tri­bu­tion to the pre­served rail­way move­ment. If no tak­ers, then sur­plus items should be prop­erly scrapped for the go­ing rate.”

Look­ing at the prob­lem from a wider view­point, Paul be­lieves the Govern­ment should in­tro­duce a graf­fiti tax on the sale of all aerosol spray cans. The funds made avail­able would cover the costs of graf­fiti re­moval from pri­vate prop­er­ties along­side the rail­way cor­ri­dors or main roads.

“Hit those who make the un­sightly mess in the first place in the pocket, so that some of the pay­ment goes to­wards clean­ing it up af­ter­wards,” he says.

John Mac­nab, from Lau­rieston near Falkirk, cites a pic­ture of Kyle of Lochalsh sta­tion in

RAIL 848 (above) as an illustration of how un­tidi­ness has spread to the ex­trem­i­ties of the net­work.

“Then there’s the seem­ingly ram­pant un­der­growth al­lowed to spring up on em­bank­ment walls and bridges, and of­ten be­tween run­ning lines, or the graf­fiti that adorns much line­side equip­ment and struc­tures,” he writes.

“It is a sad re­flec­tion on present day at­ti­tudes and be­hav­iour that is not (alas) con­fined to rail­way en­vi­rons.”

Jim Re­side, of Chiswick, is one of the many con­cerned with the in­ci­dent near In­ver­ness ( RAIL 849 and Open Ac­cess, RAIL 852), where a piece of old track was left on the line.

“It must surely ring alarm bells at Net­work Rail - and for all those who ac­knowl­edge the much-im­proved safety statis­tics for Bri­tain’s rail­ways.

“It’s not just a ques­tion of track work­ers hand­ing back lines in safe con­di­tion. There must also be a manda­tory re­quire­ment to re­move un­wanted lengths of track, con­crete sleep­ers, bags of bal­last, plus cable troughs and cov­ers if they are no longer needed on site.

“In a world where ter­ror­ism and van­dal­ism are seem­ingly part and par­cel of life in the UK, this dis­carded ma­te­rial from com­pleted en­gi­neer­ing work is an in­vi­ta­tion to dis­rupt or de­rail pas­sen­ger ser­vices.

“Ob­ser­va­tion of the rail­way lines around Lon­don sadly re­veals mile af­ter mile of track lit­tered with such items, of­ten for months or even years.”

And Nigel Perkins, from Lon­don, sent us a cou­ple of pho­to­graphs he took back in Jan­uary, of rub­bish by the buf­fer stops at Brighton sta­tion (left).

“The sta­tion is man­aged by Great North­ern, Thames­link and South­ern, who are clearly not mon­i­tor­ing the clean­ing staff who have clearly swept rub­bish onto the tracks;” he says.

“This must project a very poor im­age to pas­sen­gers board­ing their train.”

So true! If you have more ex­am­ples of line­side lit­ter, and sug­ges­tions of what else the in­dus­try can do to get the prob­lem un­der con­trol, email us at

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.