Environmental design - lighting

Using lighting to create an environment that is well-lit, makes people more visible and feel safer when using the space.

Potential to operate in different ways.  Lighting can influence the attitudes or activities leading to trespass (e.g. people may fear being seen more clearly).  Directional cues from lights can support correct behaviour and influence access to tracks.  By increasing visibility of people it can influence the behaviour of people when in a place of risk (e.g. in the track area or in depots).

As part of general improvements at a railway location (e.g. station) or at higher risk locations at stations, crossings or depots (e.g. entry points to track or depot areas). 

By whom? - Infrastructure owner or undertaking with responsibility for operation at a railway location.

Applicability / suitability for trespass types

Where appropriate use of lighting or changes in levels of illumination at a rail location could influence the way in which people might behave or respond in that situation.  

Trespasser type = All.

Trespass events = Convenience, anti-social behaviour, theft, graffiti, hangout recreation.

Observed behaviours = Exiting platform end, damage to facilities / equipment, evidence of graffiti, seen on disused platforms.

Potential Motivations = Shortening distance or time to reach a location, personal financial gain, self-expression, moral judgement, lack of self-control, peer pressure, artistic expression, recognition, out of sight / seclusion.


Low/Medium effectiveness

There are limited published studies to date on the effectiveness of lighting systems to deter illegal behaviour, though there are some emerging studies of lighting to influence behaviour in rail locations. Better lighting can increase the feeling of personal safety and a well-lit station or other location could deter some forms of trespass behaviour.  There are examples of use of blue lighting at stations in efforts to reduce the number of suicides at stations, but evidence on effectiveness is disputed and requires further investigation.

Potential for an immediate effect at a particular location and may interrupt an event in progress.

Could be a sustained effect, especially if there is a follow-up response from rail staff.

Factors influencing effectiveness

A heightened sense or perception that people might be seen and general levels of illumination or activation of lights in particular areas make a place feel like it is under surveillance.
Reinforcement of effects from activation of lighting by follow-up surveillance and appropriate response from rail staff when people are seen in a place that they should not be, or other warnings (e.g. acoustic warnings from speakers).

How to apply or implement, including dependencies

Install lighting to reduce darker areas where people may be able to conceal themselves.

Ensure perimeter areas are well lit and visible.

Ensure bridges, and entry / exit points to lifts, staircases are well lit, to make them more inviting to use than crossing the tracks, i.e. highlighting a preferred route for people.

Use in conjunction with sensors to trigger lighting as a people move into or through an area.  This can be used to create a sense of tracking a person’s movement.  

Can consider different qualities of lighting (e.g. colour, intensity) to create areas that are more inviting or to dissuade access to some areas.  



Depends on the nature of the lighting solution.  Could involve a few lower cost fittings and sensors, or more extensive infrastructure where problems are dispersed in a location.

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
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