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Teenagers, drugs and fireworks: Irish Rail receives 145 text messages since launching Dart alert system

54 texts were received from passengers concerned about groups of “youths being disruptive”.

Image: Shutterstock/Ungor

IRISH RAIL HAS received over 145 text messages from Dart passengers since launching a service aimed at tackling anti-social or suspicious behaviour, new figures show. 

In August, Irish Rail announced the new service, which was first flagged back in June where members of the public can text the word TRAIN followed by their location, carriage number if possible, and details of the incident in question to 51444.

Since launching the text service, 54 texts have been received from Dart passengers concerned about groups of “youths being disruptive or causing concern,” Irish Rail said. 

The second largest category were text messages about drink or drugs (41) on the Dart while 20 text alerts were received from passengers travelling on Commuter services. 

Six texts were received regarding people selling tissues on the Dart. Other concerns included vandalism (3), smoking (3), fireworks (3), sexual harassment (2) and theft or attempted theft (2). 

dart Chart showing breakdown of text messages received. Source: Irish Rail

Two texts were received about harassment and there was one text regarding racism on board the Dart. 

The figure of 145 text messages – dated up until 18 October – does not include messages where the passenger did not give any information. 

When a message is received at Irish Rail’s central security monitoring room, staff then liaise with security teams to respond based on reported location and location of security or staff.

Customers who use the text alert system receive an automated response to confirm that their message has been received. 

Irish Rail has said it is also increasing security patrols, installing new CCTV, increasing cooperation with gardaí and recruiting a senior security specialist in a bid to crack down on anti-social behaviour. 

A spokesperson said “it will be over time that we will see the impact on overall anti-social behaviour” of the text alert service, adding that the text service will be expanded to more Commuter routes in the coming weeks. 

Just over 800 incidents of such behaviour, including 14 assaults on staff members, were reported to Irish Rail last year – up from 705 in 2017. 

There have been 785 incidents of anti-social behaviour, including six assaults on employees, on Irish trains to date in 2019. The reported incidents include vandalism, intimidation and theft.

Earlier this week, Fianna Fáil TD John Lahart called for a “zero-tolerance” approach in response to rising levels of anti-social behaviour on Irish trains. 

Lahart warned that the number of incidents was “increasing” and once again called for the establishment of a dedicated transport police unit to combat anti-social behaviour. 

Lahart said the idea had been “fobbed off”, despite the evidence that incidents are increasing. 

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