An insider’s guide to station fencing

With significant numbers of new railway stations planned and many others due for redevelopment or modernisation, Peter Jackson of Jacksons Fencing explains how gates and fences can enhance security.

Rail usage in Britain has increased to record levels over the past decade, highlighting the requirement for a .renewed focus on physical security as part of railway station architecture.

Large crowds on platforms raise concerns about passenger safety and station operators need to segregate pedestrians from the track and also from walkways and roads running parallel to the platform.

Stringent perimeter security and access control measures should be adopted to prevent rail passengers or trespassers from taking any shortcuts to the main platform.

There are numerous factors to consider in the design and installation of new or replacement security fencing and gates in and around the UK’s 2,550 railway stations. The primary requirements are to maintain the highest levels of passenger and staff safety and operational efficiency, from arrival at the station to boarding a train.

This dictates a wider requirement for fencing and gates to provide secure parking and bicycle storage facilities; ease the flow of passengers transiting through the station; and to enable rapid evacuation and access for emergency services in the event of a major incident. Other security considerations at stations include:

• protecting the station, its assets, car park and bicycle storage out of operating hours;

• securing and controlling access to a non-public area;

• preventing fare evasion, personal attack, vandalism,

anti-social behaviour and attempted suicide;

• separating pedestrian and vehicular traffic;

• security and access to car parking;

• safety barriers to reduce the chance of crush, pushing pedestrians onto the rails;

• securing and controlling access to buildings and platforms.

Fencing can also help provide  security solutions for the trackside and associated infrastructure. For example, by controlling access to pedestrian track crossings and preventing disruption due to theft, vandalism and accidents. It can also prevent unauthorised access by people and large animals; protect  depots, signalling equipment, communications, power and fuel supplies; and mitigate unwanted noise.

The selection of an appropriate fencing system will depend on location, potential threats and impact if the site was compromised. The fabric of the fence, its mechanical fixings, posts and foundations all work in combination to establish the security performance of a fence. Equally, the factors which will reduce designed performance will include inadequate fixings, foundations and poor maintenance. The following are examples of some of the fence types available.

Vertical steel bar fencing

Vertical steel railing (known as vertical bar) fencing systems are typically constructed using round or square section hollow steel pales, running through hollow section steel rails in a welded design. They are less visually intimidating, inherently stronger and offer greater visibility and resistance to being pried apart.

Pales can be enhanced with a choice of finials either for decorative purposes or to provide a deterrent to climbing, while the option to include a variety of security toppings to deter or prevent fence climbing make it a particularly popular choice. It’s important to select vertical steel railing systems featuring fully welded pale-to-rail construction and fully concealed post-to-panel fixings that provide a strong mechanical bond and maintain structural and security integrity. A number of LPS 1175 – rated vertical steel railing fencing systems are available.

Timber acoustic fencing

Probably the most cost-effective and flexible solution that can be adapted to suit most ground conditions and contours. Timber is our chosen material and combines high acoustic properties within a natural facade and can deliver a 32dB reduction in noise in laboratory conditions. A small number of noise barrier properties are certified by LPCB to LPS 1175 Security Rating 3 (SR3).

Timber and steel combination

Where perimeter security measures require a ‘softer’ image, novel security fencing systems employing timber or timber and steel combinations are available. These are designed with flat surfaces on the attack face to prevent attempts to scale over, and are constructed from materials which offer good resistance to cutting. Combination fencing systems are available with security toppings and offer a high degree of privacy. A limited number of timber and steel combination systems are available at LPS 1175 SR ratings.

‘358’ mesh panels

Generically referred to as either ‘358’ or ‘prison mesh’, this type of welded mesh panel fencing has found favour in higher security applications as its aperture offers good resistance to climbing and significantly improved resistance over welded mesh on rolls to cutting through its fabric. However, due to large quantities of inferior versions of this material being imported, caution should be applied to ensure that the gauge of wire used in its construction and quality of welds is consistent with the British Standard BS1722 Part 14 or Secured by Design-approved specification.

Bow top

Bow top fencing provides an aesthetically pleasing, versatile and durable demarcation fence. Constructed with a pale-through-rail construction with no visible joins, it’s immensely strong but the tubular design is lighter than traditional solid steel.

Peter Jackson is managing director at Jacksons Fencing