Public Safety on Irish Rail – Part Two

In the second of a two-part series, The City’s Keith Horan looks at incidents of anti-social behaviour on Intercity Irish Rail services, using figures obtained under the Freedom of Information Act.

2018 looks set to be the worst year since 2015 for incidents of anti-social behaviour on Intercity Irish Rail services, with 280 incidents reported by October, more than the final year figure for any of the previous three years. Already this year, there have been 100 more incidents reported than in the whole of 2016. And overall, a total of 964 incidents of anti-social behaviour were reported on Intercity Irish Rail services since 2015.

The most common complaint of anti-social behaviour made by Intercity Irish Rail customers is to do with disruptive passengers, with a total of 628 complaints – a whopping 65% of all total reports made. Like the rising total yearly trend, incidents involving disruptive passengers have been on the up since 2016 when 120 reports were recorded, to 153 in 2017, escalating to 186 by October of this year.

According to the figures obtained for disruptive passengers on InterCity services, you are most likely to run into problems on the Galway line, which holds the title for most reports since 2015 with 105. At the other end of the scale, you are least likely to run into a disruptive passenger on the Kildare line, with only 17 reported incidents over four years. The total figure for disruptive passengers on the Kildare line since 2015 is lower than every individual yearly figure of similar reports on the Cork, Galway and Sligo lines.

The next most common complaint around anti-social behaviour centres on reports of intimidation. Since 2015, there have been 164 reported incidents of intimidation, although this figure is skewed somewhat by a totally disproportionate 31 incidents in Longford in 2017, more than treble the yearly complaints of intimidation on every other line.

Unsurprisingly, Longford has the highest number of reports of intimidation since 2015, with 58 made – Dundalk with 20 has seen the second highest number of reported incidents of intimidation, followed by Cork and Sligo with 16 each. Compared to Longford, if you want a care-free train journey free of intimidation, the Rosslare Europort service is ideal, with only two incidents of intimidation being reported on the line in the last four years.

Acts of vandalism are the third most reported incident of anti-social behaviour on Intercity services, with a total of 65 reported since 2015. However, vandalism seems to be a receding problem, with reported incidents since 2016 all lower than a high of 26 in 2015.

Longford again takes the unwanted position of number one for reports of vandalism on InterCity services, with a total of 21 incidents since 2015. Like with incidents of intimidation, Longford has a disproportionate figure in incidents of vandalism – the 11 reported in 2015 being more than double the figure reported in any year on any other line. Dundalk had the second most reports of vandalism with 13, while at the other end of the scale, the Belfast and Westport services have seen no reported incidents of vandalism being made from 2015 to October of this year.

Incidents of theft aboard Intercity services in 2018 look set to be the highest since 2015, with more than double the amount of theft recorded in 2017. There have been 16 reports of theft made by October of this year, compared to a total of six last year. The Longford and Cork services share the position of number one in terms of reports of theft with ten each, while your bags and belongings should be perfectly safe on the Tralee and Belfast lines, with both without a report of theft in that time.

Longford also tops the table for reported assaults on Intercity Rail services, with eight such incidents reported since 2015, closely followed by Dundalk with seven. Again, 2018 looks set to be a bad year for safety on Intercity services, with the eight reports of assault by October of this year equalling the same number for the whole of 2015. The Westport service is closest to Longford and Dundalk, with a total of three reported assaults, while both the Galway and Sligo services have yet to see an incident of assault being reported.

Speaking to The City NRBU General Secretary Dermot O’Leary said that “the situation of anti-social behaviour on Irish Rail services is an escalating problem, with incidents rising year on year.” Mr O’Leary also said that NRBU members have been both physically and verbally assaulted on rail services, and that while issues around anti-social behaviour are a wider societal problem, he appealed to Minister for Transport Shane Ross and Minister for Justice Charlie Flanagan to intervene and deal with the problem on Irish Rail services across the country.

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