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Sydney Trains targets graffiti with new sensor system

Graffiti. Photo: Oliver Wolters

A high-tech sensor system is being used on “an undisclosed number” of Sydney Trains, to sniff out “graffiti thugs,” Transport for NSW said on Thursday.

According to the transport authority, a number of trains on the Sydney network have been fitted with the “Mousetrap” system, which uses an electronic sensor which detects the vapour of both spray paint, and marker pens.

A detection by the Mousetrap system can trigger CCTV captures of alleged graffiti offenders, which can be passed on to Sydney Trains staff, and Police Transport Command.

NSW minister for transport Andrew Constance on Thursday said the system has already let do the arrest of 30 offenders.

“Mousetrap is our latest weapon in the war against graffiti thugs damaging our trains,” Constance said. “Vandals won’t know where and they won’t know when we’re watching.”

The system is in its early stages of development, but Sydney Trains is confident so far in the initial results.

“We know it’s early days for Mousetrap but its success has been in allowing Sydney Trains to move from a strategy of removing graffiti to one where we stop it as it happens,” Sydney Trains boss Howard Collins explained.

“Our message to graffiti vandals is clear: Spray the paint and run the risk.”

It’s estimated that graffiti removal from Sydney Trains cost taxpayers $34 million last financial year, up from $30 million in the prior period.

Collins says graffiti is the cause of a large proportion of customer complaints, with Sydney Trains removing around 11,000 instances of graffiti every month.

“We know customers feel unsafe when they are using a train which is covered in graffiti and offenders often place themselves and others in danger by trespassing on the railway or being somewhere they shouldn’t,” Collins recognised.

“I am determined to reduce the amount of graffiti vandalism on our train network and to make trains a more attractive option for customers.”

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