Vandals have caused more than €500,000 worth of damage to over 200 Dart carriages since the start of the year, prompting Irish Rail and the Garda to step up policing on the service in recent weeks.
From January to the start of November, 211 Dart carriages were defaced in 55 separate graffiti ncidents with cleaning and repair costs amounting to €516,000, according to Irish Rail.
Spokesman Barry Kenny said a “special inter-agency operation has been established by gardaí in [DUBLIN]and Irish Rail in order to target the graffiti vandals who are causing criminal damage to carriages.”
He said that as part of the operation, “gardaí have conducted patrols of rail lines over the past weeks and will continue to do so in an effort to target groups involved in this activity.”
He added that a number of arrests have been made resulting in one conviction in the Dublin District Court.
He was speaking after Fine Gael's Alan Farrell repeated a call for a dedicated unit within the Garda to tackle rising incidents of anti-social behaviour and vandalism on buses, trains, Darts and Luas.
The TD for Dublin Fingal also noted that as well as the vandalism, passengers sent 71 texts to Irish Rail’s text alert system, with 50 reported from Dart users and 21 reported on commuter services from January to September.
He noted that 22 passengers reported youths causing disturbances, while 27 reports related to the use of drink, drugs and smoking on trains, nine reported harassments, five reported aggressive behaviour and verbal abuse. Other cases related to attempted theft, vandalism and social distancing and mask wearing concerns.
Mr Farrell saidhe had been told by Bus Éireann that it had recorded a year-on-year increase of 86 per cent in incidents of malicious damage, with 80 incidents in the first nine months of the year, compared to 40 in the same period in 2020.
“As a regular Dart user, I have witnessed this anti-social behaviour, including young male Dart users making threatening comments of a sexual nature towards a female passenger which simply cannot be tolerated,” he said adding that “high visibility policing on our public transport will send a clear and unequivocal message, that anti-social behaviour will not be tolerated and perpetrators will face consequences for their actions.”
He called for a dedicated unit to police public transport, including at stations and stops ... The presence of gardaí aboard our trains and buses will not only provide peace of mind for staff members and users, it will also crucially deter anti-social behaviour and abuse,” he concluded.
Mr Kenny also pointed to "an ongoing programme of joint preventative patrols with gardaí on board services" and added that Irish Rail had "up to 20 of our own security teams patrolling daily. We will continue to work with gardaí to coordinate operations and reduce incidents of anti-social behaviour."