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Train taggers beware - you are being watched.
October 2014

Greater Wellington Regional Council is trumpeting its new Rail Monitoring Centre in Johnsonville, where fibre optic cables deliver real-time footage from 660 cameras in Wellington railway stations, park and ride areas, and railyards back to one central hub.

So far Kapiti Stations have not been too badly affected and it is hoped the new cameras will be a real deterrant.

The setup of the whole system has cost the council $3 million, and has ongoing annual costs of $1.1m, with NZTA picking up half the tab. But according to council rail operations manager Angus Gabara, it is already paying off.

Since it was installed in June, more than 300 incidents had been recorded by the centre, including a suspected tagger who cut through wire fencing in Upper Hutt.

An average piece of graffiti - or tag - on a train cost $6000 to fix but, worse than the cost was the fact the train had to be taken out of service for two days for repairs, Gabara said.

Based on the success of the new system, from November 1 the centre would be monitored 24 hours a day, seven days a week. At present, it operates at night.

The council was also trialling a two-way communication system, meaning an operator could talk to people on a train platform and, for example, say, "We are watching you, step away from the train".

But while the watchers keep an eye on the stations, they too will have a camera trained on them at the centre.

Regional council spokeswoman Philippa Lagan said the camera would be accessible only to council or KiwiRail staff, and was there in case of an incident or break-in.

Closed-circuit cameras at railway stations are not new, but they have been routinely monitored only since June, meaning police can now be sent straight to the scene of a crime.

Wellington district prevention manager Inspector Mike Hill said the system was mostly about public safety. "We want people to feel safe while they are using public transport."

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