Thursday 4th Jun, 2020

New law to target rail trespassing in WA

Perth B-series train. Credit: Creative Commons / DBZ2313
Photo: Perth B-series train. Credit: Creative Commons / DBZ2313

A proposed 25-fold increase to the maximum penalty for rail trespassing in Western Australia is hoped to at curb an increase in dangerous behaviour, according to the state government.

Draft legislation introduced to WA Parliament on September 26 by state transport minister Rita Saffioti would see the maximum fine for trespassing on Public Transport Authority property lifted from just $200 to $5000.

Under the Criminal Code the maximum trespass penalty is a $12,000 fine and 12 months imprisonment, but this legislation is rarely applied to incidents of rail trespass.

Saffioti said a significant increase in the prescribed fine specifically for rail trespass would help address a concerning rise in such incidents.

There were 885 incidents reported in 2018/19 around WA’s rail corridors which qualified – under the Rail Safety National Law Act – as ‘incidents that may have the potential to cause a serious incident’.

That represented a 70 per cent increase on the 2017/18 figure of 510 reported offences.

“Despite awareness campaigns by the PTA, incidents of trespass in WA have increased,” Saffioti said.

She specifically noted the highly dangerous practice of train surfing, which received significant public attention last year when footage went viral of a man leaping from a moving Perth train, from the Fremantle Bridge, into the water below.

“The sporadic incidents of train-surfing, and last year’s bridge-jumping incident on the Fremantle Line are examples of the stupid and unsafe behaviour we want to stop,” Saffioti said.

“When something goes wrong, it drastically impacts a lot of people – commuters, first responders and PTA staff just to name a few – and that’s why we need to prevent it happening.”

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