Stop & Examine
“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