Network Rail has planted 35 trees at an unsightly graffiti hotspot in London in a bid to deter taggers from vandalising the railway and saving thousands of pounds in cleaning costs.
It is the first time Network Rail has trialled using trees to prevent graffiti and vandalism which has become an eyesore for our passengers and railway neighbours.
The tree planting at the Bermondsey Dive Under – a junction where one set of rail lines tunnel under another – aims to stop graffiti at this south east London hotspot, which has cost taxpayers £150,000 in cleaning costs in the past 2 years, at the same time as creating new habitat for wildlife living around the railway.
Jon Ruch, Network Rail’s head of security, route crime and resilience for the Southern region, said: “Our teams have been working incredibly hard over the past year or so to remove more graffiti, as we want to make the railway a more inviting place for our passengers.
“We spend around £750k per year on targeting graffiti hotspots and have cleared almost 700 sites since the start of the year right across the Southern region. Using trees to provide a screen that blocks taggers from repainting is a new approach, which is also fantastic news for the environment.
“Removing graffiti in Bermondsey has cost £150,000 over the past 2 years, and if we can stop it, that’s vital funding that we can invest into making the railway more reliable for our passengers.”
On Friday, July 1, Network Rail chairman, Sir Peter Hendy helped plant the last tree in Bermondsey with colleagues from across the railway in the Southern region.
Sir Peter commented: “It was really good to be out with the Southern team planting trees. The security and sustainability teams have worked together with Keltbray to deliver a tree screening solution to deter future graffiti on our infrastructure. This was great to see, thanks to all involved.”
This latest tree planting follows the launch of a £1 million scheme by Network Rail Southern region in April to set up local planting schemes in Kent, Sussex, south London, Surrey and Hampshire over the next three years, working with national conservation charity The Tree Council. The first year target of 10,000 trees and shrubs by the end of March 2022 has been more than doubled and thousands more will follow by 2024.
The tree planting is among dozens of sustainability initiatives, including the creation of 50 new nature reserves, railway sleepers made from recycled plastic in Wiltshire, renewable energy solutions like new solar panels to power Denmark Hill station, vegetable oil being used an alternative to diesel, and huge recycling gains.
The Southern region is now recycling 80% of our waste, up 20% on last year, while at Victoria station we’re recycling over 90% of all waste, an approach being rolled out to our stations and depots. We’re also changing our car fleet by rolling out zero-emission vehicles across the region, starting with our London cars.
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