Irish Rail to ramp up security on Dart carriages

Company plans more CCTV cameras and patrols in response to anti-social behaviour

Irish Rail said it has revised ‘protocols ahead of the big summer concert season’. File photograph: The Irish Times

Irish Rail said it has revised ‘protocols ahead of the big summer concert season’. File photograph: The Irish Times

 

Irish Rail has said it will install more CCTV cameras and increase security patrols on Dart carriages over the coming months.

The announcement comes after a sharp rise in anti-social behaviour on the coastal commuter service. The company is also in talks with a private security firm about launching a text alert service for passengers who would be able to notify a “live monitored” security centre about intimidation, assaults, vandalism or thefts as they happen.

Irish Rail spokesman Barry Kenny said he hoped to confirm during May that a text alert system would be established. This would allow a “rapid response” from security or gardaí to incidents as they develop.

“We are exploring the possibility of introducing a text alert system and we expect clarity on that in the coming weeks,” he said. “It is certainly our goal to get it into operation. We are working through the logistics of it with our security provider at the moment. It is not absolutely confirmed at this point in time, there is no point in doing this unless we have the resources to cover it.”

Of the 144 carriages on the Dart fleet, 128 have CCTV cameras. The remaining 16 will be fitted out with the same technology by the end of the summer, said Mr Kenny.

It will be possible for security staff to download footage away from the trains.

Irish Rail is also “doubling” the number of Dart security patrols – those billeted at stations and others roving on services – since two years ago, said Mr Kenny.

This will mean seven mobile security units operating on the Dart and Dublin commuter services on evenings.

Major stations and some smaller specific ones which have particular anti-social behaviour problems have additional “fixed” patrols. The mobile units comprise a minimum of two people. Bigger stations are manned at all times. Mobile units are focused on evening times but with additional deployment as required, especially during summer and when large events are taking place.

Irish Rail contracts the private firm OCS for its security.

In addition to those measures, Mr Kenny said it is liaising with gardaí on planned drink-driving type or speeding style campaigns. These would target services at times when increased levels of anti-social behaviour are expected.

“We are working with gardaí on protocols for different events or known high-risk situations,” he said.

“We have revised our protocols ahead of the big summer concert season. There . . . was one particularly bad event last year at the Liam Gallagher concert so there will be additional resources for events,” he added.

“We are also doing a lot of pro-active planning for non-fixed events but which we know can raise issues. For example, when the weather starts to get fine in the summer . . . the beach destinations can have large groups going there, people having a few drinks and then the homeward leg causing issues.”

Mr Kenny said these issues are mainly linked to north Dublin beach destinations.

The increased security follows the release of figures which show more than 560 passengers made formal complaints last year about intimidation, vandalism, assault, begging and theft on Irish Rail services.

Complaints about anti-social behaviour on the Dart almost doubled last year to 96 from 52 the previous year.

“The trend has been going the wrong way the last couple of years, notwithstanding that the vast majority of people do travel without incident,” said Mr Kenny.

“We feel it is part of a wider societal issue, but we recognise that if you are on public transport you are in a confined area and it can be very alarming. We are very much focused on arresting that trend and indeed reversing it this year.”