Up to €115,000 in funding for Irish Rail to provide additional security over the Christmas period has been allocated by the Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport.
In the allocation, €100,000 will go towards additional security for passengers, staff and property. There will also be extra security patrols on evening Dart and commuter services between Dublin city centre, Howth, Maynooth, Kildare and Greystones.
There has been a 43 per cent increase in the past 18 to 24 months of anti-social behaviour on public transport. There have been repeated calls from the National Bus and Rail Union for additional security on certain routes, including calls for a dedicated Garda Public Transport Policing Division.
A spokesperson for Irish Rail Jane Cregan said, “We do recognise there has been an increase in anti-social behaviour. However, it should also be noted there were 45.5 million passenger journeys in 2017 and a projected 49 million in 2018, the overwhelming majority of which occur without incident.
“Our security patrols 2016 vs 2018 have increased by 35 per cent as we enhance general security cover, and provide for enhanced security patrols for major events,” said Cregan.
Irish Rail has previously expressed concern about the cost of removing graffiti from carriages. The remaining €15,000 will subsequently be aimed at targeting this.
University of Limerick student Laura Murray spoke to The College View of her experience travelling on the Westport to Dublin train over the summer.
“A fight broke out as a result of an older man slapping or hitting a young woman for looking at him funny. The fight broke out at the end of my carriage and all we could hear were screams and shouts and men jumping out of their seats to help the driver.
“It was extremely unsettling to see the lack of security here and that the driver himself had to handle the situation – the guards were called and the man was arrested. I don’t think I realised how bad the security was for Irish rail until that incident,” said Murray.
A DCU student who wished to remain anonymous said, “I’ve been offered drugs, seen people sexually harassed, homophobic comments to staff which were not dealt with by management, had homeless people looking for money.
“The overbooking of trains is a serious safety issue,” they added, “the number of people being left standing in carriages on intercity trains is a disgrace.”
Earlier this year, the company banned the consumption of alcohol on certain services to tackle anti-social behaviour.
Image Credit: Gillian Hogan