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October 9, 2021

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Railway safety

Railway perimeter safety – an unspoken danger?

As railway infrastructure undergoes rapid expansion, a new survey reveals challenges faced by civil engineers to ensure perimeter safety. UK-based security fencing specialists, Jacksons Fencing, analyses these findings. 

With government plans to increase the railway infrastructure in the UK, research was commissioned to find out if perimeter safety was high on the design-agenda and what challenges civil engineers faced when designing-in ways to keep the public safe from harm.

Railway engineers are also feeling the strain of the recent ramp 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’. The study found that, according to railway engineers and designers, the threat of ‘vandalism’ was the biggest concern to railway safety. This was followed by ‘trespassers with criminal intent’ (42%), showing the growing need for effective security solutions on the UK’s railways. This 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.

Beyond time and budget constraints, the survey also found that more needed to be done by the engineering community to understand the current standards associated with boundaries and safety. In fact, 68% of respondents agreed that more knowledge was 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.

From April 2019-May 2020, the Office for Rail and Road reported that suicide rates have risen over nine years, increasing from 192 fatalities in 2001/2 to 271 fatalities in 2018/19. Passenger fatalities also increased, climbing from 9 in 2017-18 to 17 in 2018/19.

Peter Jackson, Managing Director, Jacksons Fencing said: “It’s clear from our research that transport security doesn’t rest solely on the policymaker’s or owner’s shoulders. Engineering industry professionals also have a part to play in mitigating risks around railway border safety.

“We can see from our results that this is not always easy, a lack of time at the specifying stage, tight budgets, and gaps in knowledge regarding the product options available are hindering progress.”

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