Brian Sims

Survey reveals extent of perimeter security challenge on railway network

AS THE nation’s railway infrastructure undergoes rapid expansion, a new survey conducted by security solutions manufacturer Jacksons Fencing reveals the extent of the challenge faced by civil engineers when it comes to ensuring perimeter security and general safety.

The rise in anti-social behaviour places ‘vandalism’ (at 55%) and ‘trespassers with criminal intent’ (42%) as the ‘biggest threats’ to railway safety. A ‘lack of time’ and ‘tight budgets’ are the main challenges faced when designing railways (55%), while railway engineers state that knowledge of rail safety, regulations and standards ‘could be improved’.

Jacksons Fencing conducted the UK-based survey regarding railway perimeter safety back in the Summer. 211 civil engineers and architects took part. With Government plans in place to increase the railway infrastructure in the UK, the research was commissioned to find out if perimeter safety and security is high on the design agenda and unearth the key challenges civil engineers face when designing-in ways in which to keep the public safe from harm.

According to railway engineers and designers, the threat of ‘vandalism’ is the biggest concern when it comes to railway safety. This is followed by ‘trespassers with criminal intent’, in turn showing the growing need for effective security solutions on the UK’s railways. That result could also be a further reflection of the recent spike in anti-social behaviour which is being seen across the UK as lockdown measures ease.

Railway engineers are also feeling the strain of the recent ramping up in infrastructure projects, with 55% of respondents stating that ‘designs need to be completed within too short a time frame’ and that ‘small budgets are ‘making specifying difficult’.

Safety standards

Beyond time and budget constraints, the survey also finds that more needs to be done by the engineering community in order to understand the current standards associated with boundaries and safety. In fact, 68% of respondents agree that more knowledge is needed overall.

The latest railway statistics in Great Britain also show that more needs to be done to protect the public from harm around railway lines. For the period April 2019-May 2020, the Office for Rail and Road reported that suicide rates have risen over nine years, increasing from 192 fatalities in 2001-2002 to 271 fatalities in 2018-2019. Passenger fatalities also increased, climbing from nine in 2017-2018 to 17 in 2018-2019.

Commenting on the survey results, Peter Jackson (managing director of Jacksons Fencing) stated: “It’s clear from our research that transport security doesn’t rest solely on the policymaker’s or the owner’s shoulders. Engineering industry professionals also have a part to play in mitigating risks around railway border safety. We can see from our survey results that this isn’t always easy. A lack of time at the specifying stage, tight budgets and gaps in knowledge regarding the product options available are clearly hindering progress.”

Jackson added: “We believe these results should frame the start of a vital conversation. Once civil engineers and designers fully understand the causes and solutions, they’ll have the confidence to choose the most appropriate and cost-effective security and safety solutions, thereby providing lifetime value and protection for decades to come.”

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