Network Rail uses tree planting initiative to tackle graffiti hotspots

Network Rail has planted 35 trees, as part of its many sustainability initiatives, at a graffiti hotspot in London in the hopes of acting as a deterrent against vandalism while improving natural habitats in the area .

The action marks the first time Network Rail has used green measures such as these to prevent graffiti and vandalism. Planting trees at the Bermondsey Dive Under – a junction where one set of rail lines pass under another – will not only create more pleasing visual stimulation for passengers and local residents, but will also contribute to significant savings in the cost of cleaning. Graffiti in the south east London hotspot is estimated to have cost taxpayers £150,000 in cleanup and rejuvenation over the past 2 years.

Jon Ruch, Network Rail’s Head of Safety, Traffic Crime and Resilience for the Southern Region, said:

“Our crews have been working hard over the last year or so to remove more graffiti as we want to make the railway a more inviting place for our passengers.

“We spend around £750,000 a year targeting graffiti hotspots and have cleared almost 700 sites so far this year across the Southern Region. Using trees to provide a screen that prevents taggers from repainting is a new approach, which is also great news for the environment.

“The removal of graffiti in Bermondsey has cost £150,000 over the last 2 years, and if we can stop it, it’s vital funding we can invest in 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 across the railway in the Southern Region.

Sir Peter commented:

“It was really good to be with the South team planting trees. The Security and Sustainability teams worked with Keltbray to provide a tree protection solution to deter future graffiti on our infrastructure It was great to see, thank you to everyone involved.

The tree planting initiative is part of a Network Rail Southern Region £1million ecological rejuvenation scheme which was established in April this year. This project aims to establish planting schemes in Kent, Sussex, South London, Surrey and Hampshire over the next three years, in conjunction with national conservation charity The Tree Council. This initiative aimed to plant 10,000 trees and shrubs by the end of March 2022, which has already more than doubled and thousands more are expected by 2024.

Network Rail is committed to creating sustainability in the UK rail sector, which has seen the creation of 50 new nature reserves, recycled plastic railway sleepers, renewable energy solutions, recycling incentives and the replacement of diesel fuel with vegetable oils whenever possible. The rail network’s car fleet is also being revamped with the introduction of zero-emission vehicles across the region, starting with London.

The UK rail sector has the ambition to drastically reduce carbon consumption and become more sustainable wherever and whenever possible, with the aim of helping governments reach net zero by 2050. Trees like this, along with other environmental initiatives, will help take small, incremental steps in the right direction.

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