Dart to introduce text system to tackle antisocial behaviour
Technology being installed following a sharp rise in antisocial behaviour on trains
A text alert system for Dart passengers to warn security about antisocial behaviour will go “live” at the start of next month and is also being extended to other Dublin commuter services, Irish Rail has confirmed.
Under the system, rail customers will be able to discreetly alert a manned security centre about any ongoing intimidation, assaults, thefts or other harassment within carriages on the services.
They will get an automated response that the text has been received while security staff contact either patrols at stations, rail staff directly or gardaí, depending on the location and circumstances of the incident, “to affect the quickest possible response”, Irish Rail spokesman Barry Kenny said.
“We expect to have it live in early July and we will start advertising it to customers at that time,” he said.
While we expect the majority of users to be legitimate, there will probably be some misuse of the number as well
Mr Kenny said the system will be extended to commuter services between Dublin and Drogheda, Maynooth and Hazelhatch in Co Kildare as well over the coming weeks.
Notices will be placed in individual train carriages advising passengers of the text-alert number as well as instructions on how to identify the carriage and location of the train as well as a brief description of the incident.
Texts will be charged at “standard text rate”, Mr Kenny said. The overall cost to Irish Rail of the system has yet to be confirmed, but it is expected to be in excess of €100,000 every year.
CCTV footage, which is being extended, will be used to corroborate alerts.
“While we expect the majority of users to be legitimate, there will probably be some misuse of the number as well,” Mr Kenny said.
The technology is being installed following a sharp rise in antisocial behaviour on rail journeys.
More than 560 passengers made formal complaints last year about intimidation, vandalism, assault, begging and theft on Irish Rail services. Complaints about antisocial behaviour on the Dart almost doubled to 96 from 52 the previous year.
Last month, Mr Kenny apologised on behalf of Irish Rail to journalist Sarah Jane Murphy after she recounted in The Irish Times how she was “trapped, stuck and scared” when she was harassed by a group of young men who surrounded her on the Dart from Dún Laoghaire to the city centre.
Ms Murphy had raised the lack of a text-alert system on the service.
In response to a recent parliamentary question, Minster for Justice Charlie Flanagan described Irish Rail’s plan to install more CCTV cameras and increase security patrols on Dart carriages over the coming months as a “positive step”.
“I would also favour the introduction of a text-alert system which would facilitate customers to discreetly report any incidents as they develop on rail services,” he added.