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Irish Rail and Luas record over 100 instances of tram and train 'surfing' in past four years

The activity involves a person holding on to the outside of a carriage as it moves away from a station.

Image: RollingNews.ie

MORE THAN 110 incidents of potentially lethal tram or train ‘surfing’ have been recorded by Irish Rail and on Luas services over the past four years.

The ‘surfing’ involves a person holding on to the outside of a carriage as it moves away from a station and remains a dangerous risk for both train and tram services.

The dangerous activity came to prominence in October when 20-year-old Rebecca Kelly received €550,000 in compensation after suffering a severe brain injury after clinging on to a Luas carriage.

Ms Kelly fell back onto the tracks and hit her head and had to be pulled out of the way of an oncoming tram.

Figures released under Freedom of Information legislation reveal how there has been 35 cases of tram surfing on Luas services in the past four years.

The incidents are split almost evenly between the Red and Green lines according to the figures, with an average of four a year on the Red line that connects the 3Arena with Tallaght and Saggart.

‘Dangerous activity’

Tram surfing on the Green Line – which runs through Dublin’s southside – has been more sporadic with no incidents recorded in 2015 and a spike to 13 reports last year.

During evidence in Rebecca Kelly’s case, Luas gave evidence that the placing of metal strips to prevent gripping between the door and the body of a carriage had helped deter tram surfers.

However, it has not managed to eradicate the problem although Transdev – who operate both Luas lines – said the number of incidents of tram surfing, sometimes also called ‘scutting’, was low.

Dervla Brophy of Transdev said: “Tram surfing is a dangerous activity and can lead to serious injury and can be fatal.

“We have had a very small number of incidences; person trying to ‘scut’ and all staff are trained to be vigilant, observe and report. The public have reported [cases] too.

“Any activity or even potential concern that is reported – trams will be stopped, security and or gardaí called.

“It’s critically important to stress how serious ‘surfing’ is – the risk of serious injury is very high.”

DART services

Transdev said that they deliver school talks and the dangers of ‘scutting’ and ‘surfing’ are made clear at these and garda community forums.

“We show CCTV of various incidents that have occurred along the lines,” said Brophy.

“The purpose is to request that parents know where their kids are and that if they are on the lines, they be made aware just how dangerous their playground might be.”

Irish Rail also released figures under FOI showing that there had been 87 incidents of train surfing on their services since 2016.

The number of reports has remained relatively consistent at around 30 per year, with the problem almost exclusively found on DART services (75 incidents).

Of incidents recorded during the last three years, twelve were on the Northern commuter route that connects Dublin and Dundalk.

Modified fleet

No other services apart from the DART were affected.

Irish Rail’s Barry Kenny said the problem was a “continuing issue”.

He said: “On board staff, station staff and security personnel are vigilant in ensuring we respond with security or garda support when it occurs.

“Extra security patrols this year are yielding a reduction in the number of incidents over 2017 also.”

Irish Rail said they had modified the original DART fleet of 76 carriages during refurbishment to make headlight units more difficult to grasp onto.

They said future fleet orders will come with preventative measures incorporated into the design.

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About the author:

Ken Foxe  / Journalist lecturer and freelance reporter

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