Information and Warning signs
Information (warnings or prohibition) to influence attitudes and activities leading to trespass, knowledge of risks and regulations, and to support correct behaviour near railways.
Stations, crossings, perimeter fencing to the railway or other rail locations. Usually localised to an area but may be placed routinely in selected locations (e.g. at crossings, at platform ends).
By whom? - Infrastructure owner, other rail undertakings.
Applicability / suitability for trespass types
Where there is information to convey to warn of risk or prohibit behaviour or activities and it is appropriate to provide this in prominent locations in a fixed format.
Trespasser type = All types.
Trespass events = All.
Observed behaviours = Crossing tracks, accessing railway property, damage to facilities / equipment, evidence of graffiti.
Potential Motivations = To shorten distance or reduce time needed, unaware of rules, personal financial gain, self-expression, low moral judgement and reasoning, lack of self-control, peer pressure, artistic expression, recognition, rebellion, seeking seclusion, exploration.
There are mixed findings on the effectiveness of signs. One study found that warning signs decreased trespass by 30% whereas another study found that a warning sign on the illegality of trespass did not prevent it. A further study found prohibitive signs were effective at decreasing trespass during the day, but not during the night.
May be effective with some groups of trespassers at the point that they see the sign, though other trespasser types may not be inclined to comply with warnings or statements about prohibited practices.
Factors influencing effectiveness
Where they complement other interventions (e.g. reinforcing the restriction of access by a fence or giving further information of the nature of the hazard and reason for the restriction).
Used in conjunction with appropriate response to breach of a protected area (e.g. surveillance by security staff, sensors, CCTV).
Appropriate placement to increase chance of being seen.
Where they can be placed appropriately, has a suitable message to improve compliance with a warning or prohibition (see also content on messaging in campaigns).
Appropriate language for comprehension and to connect with the target groups.
How to apply or implement, including dependencies
Well established intervention and signs have long been used across the rail network.
Commonly used in conjunction with physical barriers or sanctions.
Use good lighting - to ensure the signs are visible at night or in poor weather conditions.
The effectiveness of a sign can depend upon the message it is conveying. For example, signs that read “Do not graffiti here,” increased graffiti in those areas.
Words such as “Danger” are perceived as having a strong impact.
Signs often require prescribed details, layouts and colours to comply with legislation, standards and conventions.
Using images to show the danger that could be incurred, can have a strong impact. Pictures / icons can overcome language barriers, but care is needed to ensure that there is a common understanding of important messages.
Be aware of the potential for the sign to become lost amongst other visual clutter and other signs, information and advertising.
Likely to be low costs if appropriate signs are available without new development work.