Ukrainians are already used to vandalism and "unauthorized" graffiti art in local trains, but the situation has worsened recently, and the rail road suffers more and more financial losses. Moreover, in the majority of case vandals escape punishment, and the transit police cannot stop them.
ForUm has visited "Fastov" train depot of South-Western railroad, workers of which regularly complain about vandalism and financial losses.

In the depot journalists are met by the head of the suburban service Oleksandr Podkopalov. He invites media representatives in one of the cars and directly points to a broken door handle.

"You know thieves usually rob banks or jewelry shops, but here we have a social transport with no valuable things. But you won't believe it, people steal even metal furring from the seats," he tells.

Podkopalov is showing us what hooligans have torn, cut or broken.

According to him, vandals often break windows, break off door handles, metal furring, seat covering and even doors. But graffiti causes the major damaged. Even if such art covers only a part of a car, workers have to repaint the whole train, which costs 36 thousand hryvnias.
"There are cases when vandals rip off seats, seat handles even sinks in toilets. Not long ago, on Motovilovka-Kyiv part of the road, vandals ripped off and threw out six seats," Podkopalov continues.

Then the had of the services brings journalists to the depot territory, speaking on the way about counting monthly losses caused by acts of vandalism and hooliganism.

Transit police sometimes manages to detain offenders, but in he majority of cases vandals escape unpunished, and the depot has to pay for damage from its budget. If an offender is caught, he faces accusations by the article "Petty crime" or "Premeditated wrongful damage to property". If vandals are minors, the responsibility rests with their parents.

Podkopal invites the guests to the repair unit - all cars damaged by hooligans end up here.
This is the a kingdom of the team of engineers, mechanics, technicians. Bangs and booms come from every corner.

"Money spent for continuous repair and upgrade of damaged property could have been spent for purchase of new commuter trains. The problem of vandalism exists also in European countries, but their commuter trains are smaller, only four or five cars (we have up to 10), and conductors are able to monitor and control the situation in whole train," he adds angrily.

Chief engineer of the depot Ivan Bespalyi joins the conversation.

What makes him angry the most is not vandalism itself, but indifference of people seeing it.

"Hooligans break something on the road, but there are other passengers in the train. Why don't they interfere, but watch indifferently? Meanness of thieves is also surprising. Just because he cannot buy a lock, he steals it in a train...," he says.

To solve he situation journalists recommend to install video surveillance, but depot workers only sigh.

"We do not have enough means, we hardly find money for repair works. Last year, for example, only "Fastov" depot spent more than six million hryvnias to fix aftermath of vandalism," Podkopalov answers.

"So, what can be done to solve the situation? To improve the legislation, to strengthen responsibility?" ForUm's correspondent asks. 

"Strengthened responsibility and higher fines would not hurt, but we need to change people's mentality somehow, to make them understand what they can and what they cannot," Bespalyi specifies. 

In turn, Podkopalov adds that in Russia, for example, train cars are covered with special paint, and any graffiti can be easily washed off.

"Subway has started installing certain anti-vandal seats with metal coating, which cannot be cut of torn. I think we will insist to have the same," he explains.

For the last, journalists are invited to visit the painting unit to see how one small graffiti on a car makes workers to repaint the whole train. The line of trains waiting for their turn is long...

"We do not have new cars, and we cannot delay or postpone the repair - the train must be dispatched in time. Sometimes other depots help... It happens that vandals break headlights or rip off wipers. Such train cannot be dispatched, because there is a risk for passengers," painter Ivan Maryanchyk says.

Inactivity in this situation may force the railroad to consider cancellation of evening runs of commuter trains.

As a reminder, South-Western railroad numbers 315 stations, and maintenance works are carried out by five railway service directions - Kyivska, Kazatynska, Zhmerynska, Korostenska, Konotopska. The service does not have enough means for repair, let alone improvement of service  and purchase of new cars. Neglect of this problem have resulted into more frequent cases of vandalism and its systemic character. For example, there were 33 big cases of vandalism registered   in 2011, 47 - in 2012, and already 20 since the beginning of 2013. Such figures clearly prove that this sector require immediate an urgent changes.

Olga Karetnikova, photos by Viktor Kovalchuk


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