- Route crime
Route crime is the cause of most deaths to members of the public on Britain’s railways. Many of these deaths are suicides, but a significant number are accidental deaths due to trespass.
In comparison, vandalism makes a much smaller contribution to overall route crime risk. However, acts of vandalism (such as placing obstructions on the track) are of concern because they can lead to damage, injury, or catastrophic derailment with the potential for multiple passenger fatalities.
Assaults on rail staff are generally considered separately from route crime.
In this section
What are we doing to combat route crime?
We have a role in ensuring that Network Rail and rail operators do all that is reasonably practicable to:
- prevent unauthorised access to the network;
- make sure the track is kept clear of lineside materials (which can be used in acts of vandalism); and
- ensure risks to the travelling public are reduced. British Transport Police (BTP) lead on matters of criminal damage and the application of railway by-laws on trespass. The civil police may be involved in issues involving vandalism from beyond the railway boundary.
We work closely with rail industry partners to ensure a targeted and coordinated approach to further reductions in route crime. We have a route crime strategy ( PDF 81 Kb) to direct our work in this area, with particular focus on risks to children and derailment risks caused by obstruction of the line by vandals.
What else are we doing?
As the safety and economic regulator of Britain’s railways, we maintain a clear focus on ensuring that all rail industry parties comply with their legal obligations under section 3 of the Health and Safety at Work Act to reduce risks to the general public, so far as is reasonably practicable. This obligation extends to the prevention of trespass and vandalism on the railway.
In addition, we work with industry partners at both a local and national level to tackle trespass and vandalism. We provide active support to industry partnerships working on route crime and are involved in supporting industry education and awareness initiatives, particularly for children and young people, to complement the learning materials on the industry’s Track Off website.
Do duty holders have any responsibility?
As well as the law on vandalism enforced by BTP and the civil police, rail operators have legal duties under health and safety law, which we enforce.
Railway infrastructure controllers (Network Rail on Britain’s mainline rail network but also London Underground) have a general duty Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 to reduce risks 'so far as is reasonably practicable'.
As part of this duty, they are required to take all reasonably practicable steps to prevent unauthorised access to the infrastructure and to ensure that public safety is not endangered through the presence of uncontrolled railway material left near the track where vandals might use it.
Last updated: 29 December 2010