Art for art's sake, but clean up graffiti for heaven's sake. That's the message a group of mayors want railway operator Connex to heed ahead of Melbourne's 2006 Commonwealth Games.
Mayors from Stonnington, Glen Eira, Port Phillip and Kingston rode the rails yesterday to highlight what they said was a significant graffiti problem on railway-owned land.
The Inner South Metropolitan Mayors' Group has initiated programs to encourage "legal graffiti" in designated zones, but said illegal graffiti was often out of their control.
Kingston Mayor Arthur Athanasopoulos said a study showed 30 per cent of all graffiti in his municipality was being scrawled on railway property.
And with the 2006 Games fast approaching, he said local councils wanted the visual blight of "tagging" removed before interstate and international visitors arrive in Melbourne.
Yesterday, as the 11.09am from Middle Brighton hurtled past an array of indecipherable scribblings on bridges, walls and signal boxes, Port Phillip Mayor Dick Gross called on Connex and VicTrack to "clean up their act".
"With privatisation of the railways, responsibility for graffiti around railway stations has fallen through the tracks," he said.
"Connex manages the stations and VicTrack owns the tracks, but neither seems to care for what happens to railway stations, subways, fences and railway reservations."
A spokeswoman for Transport Minister Peter Batchelor said graffiti on railway station property must be removed by Connex within 24 hours and offensive graffiti on other land leased by the company must be removed within 14 days of a complaint.
Connex spokesman Andrew Cassidy told The Age the company was working with VicTrack and Crime Prevention Victoria on a pilot project to deal with graffiti along rail lines between Camberwell and the city.
He said Connex was not responsible for graffiti on buildings or fences that backed on to railway land, but would continue to work with VicTrack on removing graffiti from train lines.