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Final for International Reporting class


Commuter trains are coated in graffiti and DSB is constantly working to combat this

Tuesday, May 14th, 2013

Copenhagen is the place to go for train graffiti. A wide range of graffiti can be seen on the trains. Everything from “Fuck Cops” to “The World is Yours” is spray painted colorfully over doors and windows on trains around Copenhagen.
While not all graffiti is ugly, it still costs the city money.
In 2009, DSB spent 25 million kroners cleaning graffiti. 
In 2005 there were 4,000 cases of graffiti on the outside of the S-tog trains, while the figure for regional and intercity train graffiti was just 250 cars. According to the DSB website, the majority of graffiti is done on commuter trains.
While spray painting a simple smiley face on a train just takes a few minutes, it can be a long and expensive process to eventually remove the graffiti. The state owned train transportation company, DSB, spent just over 25 million kroners in 2009 to clean up graffiti and other vandalism. Over 2,117 trains needed to be cleaned.  
It usually costs between 80.000 to 120.000 kroners to remove a section of graffiti from regional or inter-city trains. This number includes what it costs to do without the train in operation for that set time period.Some of this money comes from those prosecuted for vandalism. For example, in the summer of 2005, a man was charged with  vandalism and had to pay DSB 51,963 kroners in damages.  
In February of 2004, DSB had 8 employees working full time removing graffiti from commuter trains. In total, DSB employs a staff of over. 9,300 people. In 2010, the graffiti team removed over 77,000 square meters of graffiti from walls, stairs, tunnels and trains owned by DSB.
DSB worker, Erik Dalfoss views the graffiti as very bad and not pretty.
Graffiti such as this is a common sight on S-Togs
“I don’t like it. It’s everywhere. All the trains.” he said. He admitted DSB was trying to clean it up but that it was difficult.
Another DSB worker named Dennis had mixed feelings about the graffiti.
“If the graffiti is something beautiful, like art, then I can appreciate it,” he said, “Some I like, others I don’t.” Dennis thinks the amount of graffiti has gone down in recent years.
While it may be art, Dennis agreed that DSB should do more to clean it up, even though that costs a lot of money.
According to the DSB website, DSB passengers feel unsafe using the train or stay in stations that are filled with graffiti.
“It doesn’t bother me.” said Elina Mintatite, a middle aged woman, who takes the Stog from Copenhagen Central Station frequently. She is one of the 195 million passengers DSB carries every year.
“I don’t like to see the windows covered by graffiti though. Besides that, it doesn’t make me upset,” she said. “It’s not good. But it’s not really that bad.” Minatite thought the trains should invest more time and money into important things like assuring all trains have enough trash bags. She recalled how last week her and her daughter had nowhere to put their apples after they were done eating.
Graffiti in Denmark started out in the early 1980s and was legal. Not long after, criminal groups formed and began vandalizing private property. The city soon made graffiti illegal.  
DSB is working to combat graffiti by installing security cameras, building fences around train depots and making graffiti a serious crime. It is a difficult problem to fix, with no easy solution.
“We can not begin to introduce surveillance everywhere. It would be too expensive. We make instead of getting cleaned trains as soon as possible.” said Director of DSB, Peter Jespersen in August 2012.
The penalty for graffiti is now quite steep. One can be punished with up to four years in prison for making graffiti. Moreover, one can be sentenced to pay heavy damages if convicted of graffiti paint on DSB trains and buildings. Young people under 15 years are at risk of being removed from her parents and be placed in a closed institution, similar to a prison. Graffiti stays on your record for ten years, making it difficult to find respectable jobs.
Often it is the same group of people vandalizing the trains.  They use a “tag” that they write over and over again. A commonly seen tag is: MOA (Monsters Of Art).Little known to the vandals, DSB has built a database of these graffiti “tags” and the individuals suspected of spraying them. This database makes it easier to apprehend vandals. Copenhagen and Odense’s police forces subscribe to the database.  
While at least every third train rolling into Copenhagen Central Station has major parts of its panels covered with colors, DSB continues to work on new ways to remove those colors.  

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