Automatic technological surveillance

Devices that detect objects / people (with no human involvement) on the track or other railway property, and then alert people to the danger. This could include more simple sensors to detect the presence of people or more complex surveillance, tracking and analysis of behaviours.

Early warning of risk, enabling the railway system and police to react. Could also influence behaviour when people are in a place of risk on the railway if combined with warnings or response from people.

Used in locations where there are current reports of trespass or higher risk of incidents (e.g. crossings, access points to the track, parts of stations, depots).  

By whom? - Rail operational staff (NR / TOC / FOC) and BTP and other specialist staff.

Applicability / suitability for trespass types

Where there is a need for early identification of incursions and fast response to reduce risk to people and damage to infrastructure and attempt to identify people and intervene.  It will be necessary to consider sensors can be located within the target area and availability of power sources and means of data storage and recovery.  Processes will be needed for real time access and response to data feeds from the systems.

Trespasser type = Young people, adults.

Trespass events = Theft, Graffiti, Antisocial behaviour, Convenience, Fare evasion. 

Observed behaviours = Damage to facilities / equipment, trespass near equipment, evidence of graffiti, crossing track, exit platform end, access crossing, access at access point.

Potential Motivations = Personal financial gain, artistic expression, recognition, rebellion, territorial, self-expression, shorten distance, reduce time, personal financial gain.


Medium effectiveness

There are a number of automatic surveillance technologies that could be used (at level crossings, platform edge, platform end, fencing). Many are expensive currently and can have some operational drawbacks (e.g. inaccurate in high occupancy in stations or poor weather, confusing snow or wildlife with a person on the track).  Technologies are developing rapidly and may have value in the future.  Most systems will rely on processes for suitable response once a detection of incursion has occurred.  

Might mitigate or stop an event in progress, if suitable warning or response from people.

Likely to need repeated responses, such that people expect that they will always be interrupted, if any effect is to be maintained.

Factors influencing effectiveness

Technological readiness and ability to function as intended in the railway environment.

Ability to support with a timely response by people.

How to apply or implement, including dependencies

Knowledge of the type of trespass and circumstances in which trespass occurs can help in decisions about choice of systems.  For example:

  • A simple infrared or pressure sensor may be appropriate at some locations to detect the presence of people (access gate to the railway, enabling rapid response from first responders to prevent theft);  
  • Simple sensors (e.g. infrared motion sensors) could be combined with warnings from speakers to persuade people to leave higher risk areas (such as platform ends);
  • Other sensors (e.g. RADAR, LIDAR) can be used at crossings and other locations and can potentially be linked with traffic management systems to minimise risk of injury).

Using education to inform people of the use of sensors and detection systems and use of sanctions may operate as a deterrent to trespassing.



Dependent on the type and scale of technology.  Could be relatively low cost for a simple sensor at a single location, though needs to be used in conjunction with effective staff response.

Haven’t found what you’re looking for?
Get in touch with our Senior Safety Intelligence Analyst for further information.
Siona Vass
Tel: 020 3142 5485
Cookies help us improve your website experience.
By using our website, you agree to our use of cookies.