Network Rail installs artwork in York village to help tackle graffiti near railway

Artwork installed in York to help tackle graffiti near railway

Network Rail has joined forces with the community in Copmanthorpe to install a mural to help tackle graffiti on a bridge in the village.

Graffiti has been an ongoing problem on Temple Lane road bridge, which runs over the East Coast Main Line, and Network Rail teams have attended the site multiple times to clean and paint over it.

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Sending workers out to cover graffiti – who could be maintaining or improving the railway – costs millions of pounds of taxpayers’ money. As well as looking unpleasant for people in the community and for passengers on trains, it is illegal and can lead to other crime.

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Network Rail spends more than £3.5 million every year on cleaning graffiti.

In November, a young person in the community approached Network Rail with ideas to brighten up the area. After exploring the options, Network Rail commissioned East Riding Voluntary Action Services, known as ERVAS, and artist, Emma Garness, to design and paint a piece. Not only will the artwork brighten up Copmanthorpe, it is also hoped it will reduce graffiti in the area.

Emma worked with this local young person to design the mural – which includes brightly coloured animals, toned down with darker leaves, to fit in with the rural countryside.

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Paul Rutter, Route Director for Network Rail’s East Coast route, said: “We’re determined to tackle graffiti on and around the railway and this fantastic work really brightens the bridge up for people in Copmanthorpe.

“Our teams spend valuable time cleaning and covering graffiti – but unfortunately this creates a blank canvas for the crime. We often have to return to the same site when it’s targeted again, so I hope this piece will make others think twice before graffitiing on the bridge.”

Devan Witter BEM, Engagement and Development Officer for East Riding Voluntary Action Services, said: “We were commissioned by Network Rail to support them with a solution to the ongoing problem at the Temple Lane Bridge. We have previously worked with Network Rail on other projects within the Bridlington and Goole areas, and so we were more than happy to accept the challenge of working in a new area, to tackle the same issue.

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“As Network Rail were approached by a local young person, we were keen to ensure that their views were included within the designs, so we took the decision to appoint Emma Garness as the artist to carry out this work.

“I have seen so many positive comments about Emma’s work and I am very pleased with the final result and hope that this work remains protected for as long as is possible.”

Emma Garness, artist, said: “I was thrilled when asked to design and deliver this mural for Network Rail and the wonderful village of Copmanthorpe. I was shown a great deal of support and encouragement from the people in the village, a sure sign of a healthy community.”

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If you see someone graffitiing on the railway, please report it to the British Transport Police by calling 0800 40 50 40 or texting 61016. You can also call Network Rail’s 24-hour national helpline on 03457 11 41 41.

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Sam Hewitt

Let off some steam...