Monday 21st Jan, 2019

WA proposes tougher penalties for rail trespassers

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

The McGowan Government wants to increase fines for people who trespass on WA’s rail network, citing an increase in serious and high-profile incidents.

The current terms of the Government Railways Act dictate a maximum fine for trespassers of $200.

An increased volume of ‘train surfing’ videos have been shared online and seen by millions – including one particularly high-profile video showing a man jumping off a moving train travelling over a river on the Fremantle Line.

Transport minister Rita Saffioti says the Government wants to increase the maximum fine for such offenses to $5,000, reflecting the cost to the Public Transport Authority per court appearance, and providing a more significant penalty for more serious trespassing incidents.

“There has been a number of recent high profile incidents that could have easily resulted in serious injury or death,” Saffioti said on May 24. “The recent train surfing and bridge jumping incident on the Fremantle Line is an example of the stupid behaviour we need to stop.

“If something goes wrong, it drastically impacts a lot of people – commuters, first responders and PTA staff to name a few – and that’s why we need to prevent it happening. Walking on train tracks is always illegal except for at designated pedestrian level crossings – otherwise it’s trespass.

“We will continue to work with the PTA on initiatives to boost safety on our tracks, as demonstrated with the ongoing Stay off the Tracks community campaign and Right Track education program.”

Saffioti said the harsher penalty is intended to discourage premeditated and deliberate acts of trespass, such as train surfing. The maximum possible penalty for a charge of trespass under the Criminal Code remains a $12,000 fine and 12 months’ imprisonment, but this legislation is not frequently applied to cases of rail trespass.

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