Anti-social behaviour on public transport

 

Sir, – I sympathise with the plight of Sarah-Jane Murphy regarding her experience on a lunch-time Dart service when she was abused by a group of louts who boarded the train (“Harrowing journey: I was trapped, stuck and scared”, News, May 6th).

Despite now qualifying for age-reIated free travel, I no longer use this service due to many similar experiences.

As a disabled man, I have had my disability mocked by foul-mouthed, beer-swilling thugs.

On one occasion, a mock cheer went up when I successfully alighted from the train with my walking aid.

When I wrote to Irish Rail, it could not guarantee that there would not be a recurrence.

Its reply, while expressing regret at what happened, indicated little sense of ownership of the problem or of its duty of care to paying customers.

The company does employ what it calls “revenue protection” staff.

As the name implies, they are concerned only with prevention of fare evasion.

In my experience, they are never to be found on trains when anti-social behaviour occurs.

On quieter trains, they are quite zealous in their pursuit of fare evaders.

On one occasion, these personnel accused me in the wrong of deliberate fare evasion by presenting me with a €100 fine. On that occasion my disability was actual proof that I could not have been guilty of the offence. My Leap card had malfunctioned and had opened the station barrier for me admitting me onto the platform without, apparently, deducting my fare.

Had the barrier not opened for me, having been activated by my Leap card, I could not have accessed the platform with my walking aid.

In subsequent correspondence, the company withdrew the fine but still pointedly refuses to apologise.

The wrongful accusation of deliberate fare evasion added insult to the injury of being jeered by customers who, I imagine, are not troubled by inquiries as to the legitimacy of their presence on the train, much less about their conduct on it.

The contrast between my treatment and that of my tormentors tells me all I need to know about Irish Rail. – Yours, etc,

SEAN O’DONNELL,

Monkstown,

Co Dublin.