Rail staff seek help due to 1,000+ incidents

Rail workers have demanded extra resources to combat an epidemic of antisocial behaviour after the number of incidents recorded last year, breaking the 1,000 mark for the first time.

Rail staff seek help due to 1,000+ incidents

Rail workers have demanded extra resources to combat an epidemic of antisocial behaviour after the number of incidents recorded last year, breaking the 1,000 mark for the first time.

The number of reports by the public has more than doubled since 2016.

Data issued to the Irish Examiner by Irish Rail illustrated the extent of the issues on some rail lines, with 1,024 incidents reported by concerned members of the public. One third of these related to the consumption of drugs or alcohol.

While Irish Rail has taken a series of steps to combat these issues, there has been a sharp increase in the volume of complaints about aggressive and antisocial behaviour, drinking and drug- taking, and a number of other issues.

In 2016, there were 492 incidents of antisocial behaviour recorded by Irish Rail, less than half of what has been recorded this year. There has been a steady rise since. In 2017, 680 incidents were recorded, a figure that increased to 789 in 2018.

By October 2019, it had reached 971 and before the end of the year, it had climbed to 1,024.

A breakdown of the type of issues recorded by Irish Rail shows drug consumption or alcohol accounted for a third of all complaints.

The full breakdown is as follows:

  • Anti-social behaviour: 94;
  • Aggressive behaviour: 247;
  • Boisterous behaviour: 77;
  • Consumption of alcohol/Drugs: 338;
  • False activation of passenger alarms on train: 72;
  • Fighting, ‘horseplay’ orpassenger disturbance: 56;
  • Lewd behaviour: 27;
  • Person(s) under theinfluence of alcohol: 113.

Irish Rail also provided a breakdown of the location of these issues, with routes connecting to Heuston seeing the most incidents reported.

The Dart and the northern line are the next most frequent.

In a statement to the Irish Examiner, a spokesperson for Irish Rail said: “We work closely with the gardaí and our security contractor to reduce the instances of antisocial behaviour on our services and at our stations. We have also recently appointed a senior security advisor to implement anti-social behaviour reduction strategies.

Every instance of anti- social behaviour that our customers or staff are victim of or witness to is distressing. Overall, although in an upward trajectory, numbers are still relatively low.

Aidan Reid, a former chief superintendent with An Garda Síochána, has been hired by Irish Rail as a senior security consultant.

The company has also posted dedicated security teams at certain stations, including several on the northside line of the Dart where issues are frequent, including Clongriffin and Donaghmede.

There is also ongoing close co-operation with the gardaí and investments in the quality of walkways and public lighting at certain stations.

In August, Irish Rail also introduced a text alert system for Dart passengers in real time.

The National Bus and Rail Union has repeatedly called for the introduction of dedicated transport police to combat what it has termed “an epidemic of antisocial behaviour”.

The union’s general secretary, Dermot O’Leary, said the use of private security on public transport will not solve the issues as it is still necessary to hand offenders over to gardaí, resulting in red tape and delays in prosecutions.

Mr O’Leary said that extra resources are essential to reverse the trends.

“If extra resources were made available to gardaí, they could travel in the hotspots and be on the ground when incidents occur rather than trying to investigate after the fact,” Mr O’Leary said.

The union has written to Transport Minister Shane Ross to request his support in its campaign, saying “a safe public transport system is something all stakeholders should aspire towards”.

In the letter, Mr O’Leary wrote: “Minister, I certainly do not want to have to find myself in a position where a serious incident or worse has me castigating your office and that of government for not acting sooner.”

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