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Increase in vandalism on railways during the spring – police call for people to act sensibly

Increase in vandalism on railways during the spring – police call for people to act sensibly

Published 28.5.2020

The reports of locomotive drivers reveal a regrettable development: vandalism and trespassing on railways has increased. The Finnish Transport Infrastructure Agency, the Police and VR wish to remind everyone that messing around on railways endangers not only the safety of train passengers but also the lives of the lawbreakers themselves.

Photo of broken phone at the railroad.

Figure: Taking selfies on a train track is life-threatening and forbidden. 

The Finnish Transport Infrastructure Agency has been informed that acts of vandalism have been committed on railways in different parts of Finland. The number of cases this spring has been greater than in recent years.

‘Unfortunately, these cases are no longer so few that they can be counted on your fingers,’ explains Traffic Safety Specialist Jarmo Koistinen from the Finnish Transport Infrastructure Agency.

According to eyewitness observations that have been gathered over the years, people trespassing on railways are usually children or young people.

‘Stupidity loves company. I believe that the young people and children carrying out these crimes do not understand the risks involved. Trespassing and vandalism on railways are certainly not a harmless game, but rather they put one’s own life at risk,’ emphasises Koistinen.

Being run over by a train is not the only risk involved. There is also, among other factors, the risk of death from to the electrical voltage in the tracks. This imminent risk of death is why climbing onto track structures and railway cars is prohibited.

A train cannot swerve

Trains travel fast and make little noise, so you might not notice them until it is too late.

‘If you trespass on the railways, you are putting your life at risk. A train cannot swerve out the way, and its stopping distance is several hundred metres. In addition to such serious incidents, vandalism may also have other consequences and may cause journey delays to a number of trains. If rolling stock is damaged due to, for example, an object left on the tracks, the repair costs may be high and compensation may be demanded from the perpetrator,’ explains Tomi Kangas, Director of Traffic Safety at VR.

Police call for common sense

You can be fined for trespassing on railways. In the case of underage children, any fines are applied to the parents.

In addition to fines, the police have in some cases had to bring even more unfortunate news to the homes of those involved. The trespassers have in some cases received permanent injuries or even died. In the worst cases, the consequences of such messing around are truly tragic.

‘As a young person, you can easily feel that you are immortal, because you still have your whole life ahead of you. Unfortunately, this is not in fact the case. So be sensible!’ says Police Inspector Heikki Kallio from the National Police Board.

Dangers of railways should be discussed with children and young people

It is important to discuss the dangers of railways so that children and young people understand the risks of trespassing. For example, you should discuss the following at home:

  • Crossing the tracks at any point other than an official crossing point is dangerous and therefore prohibited.
  • Trespassing in railway areas (e.g. on tracks and in railway yards) is dangerous and prohibited.
  • Vandalism (such as placing a stone, bicycle or other obstacle on the tracks) is prohibited and dangerous both for train passengers and the perpetrator themselves.
  • Trains move quickly and silently and you may not notice them approaching until it is too late.
  • A train's stopping distance is several hundred metres and it cannot swerve to avoid you.
  • There are many different types of trains on the railway network, and the timetables frequently change.

Enquiries

Traffic Safety Specialist Jarmo Koistinen, Finnish Transport Infrastructure Agency, tel. + 358 29 534 3166 or firstname.lastname @ vayla.fi

VR Group mediadesk, tel. + 358 29 434 7123, viestinta@vr.fi