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Wednesday, 7 August, 2002, 14:43 GMT 15:43 UK
Helicopters to cut rail vandalism
Children play on rail lines
In 2001 around 26m damage was caused by vandals
Railtrack is taking its 250,000 battle to beat vandalism and deaths on the railway lines to the skies.

On Wednesday the rail operator launched helicopter patrols across the west region to try to prevent young people playing on the lines.

Across the UK last year, 10 children were killed in rail accidents, most of them during the school summer holidays.

A Railtrack spokesman said the main culprits were boys, aged between 8 and 14.


The helicopter will enable us to react quicker to any incident reported.

Simon Constable

Last year around 26 million damage was caused through vandalism, he said.

"Operation Hawk will use the helicopter to monitor key trespass and vandalism hot spots in the region during the summer school holiday period, when traditionally the number of incidents increases significantly," he said.

The helicopter is equipped with high-tech video surveillance equipment and is part of a wider campaign involving Railtrack, British Transport Police, and the train operating companies.

"The Bristol area has experienced major problems in terms of trespass and vandalism.

"Weston-super-Mare, Bridgwater, Filton Bank, including Lawrence Hill, and Gloucester, are major blackspots," said Eryl Jones of Railtrack.

Video camera

"The area is considered to be one of the worst areas in Britain for trespass and vandalism and clearly we need to combat this," said Simon Constable, area operations manager of Railtrack Great Western.

"The helicopter will enable us to react quicker to any incident reported and having a video camera on board means we will have evidence to support any prosecution.

"Trespass and vandalism costs more than 26m to the railway industry every year.

"It can also have a devastating effect on those who have to deal with the aftermath of death on the railway."


Click here to go to Bristol
See also:

30 Jul 01 | Education
18 Dec 00 | Scotland
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