Threats of violence, sexual acts in full view and open handling of drugs: Rail passengers share their stories
30th July 2022
THE Bray Air Show debacle brought into sharp focus issues that Irish Rail passengers can face.
Stories emerging from the past couple of days paint a worrying picture for Iarnród Éireann, with tales of smoke coming from carriages, public masturbation, and cocaine-filled rucksacks.
After sweltering passengers forced open the train doors and walked on the tracks last weekend, resulting in chaos during the Bray air display, other Irish Rail users have come forward to share their own stories from train services.
Charles, a 33-year-old airline pilot, is a regular commuter on the Sligo-Dublin/Dublin-Sligo service.
Charles, who has chosen to withhold his surname, contacted Independent.ie out of “frustration, disgust and embarrassment” toward the train service. In particular, he was bothered by the scene at Connolly Station in Dublin.
“You meet so many tourists, and I actually feel embarrassed that this is what our capital city has on display,” he said.
“I can honestly say that this train and facilities are the worst I have ever experienced.”
Last Wednesday, he said he was “harassed, threatened and intimidated” on the Sligo-Dublin service.
“For some reason, two male individuals sitting at the adjacent table thought I was ‘looking at them’ and repeatedly threatened to ‘follow me off the train and bash [me] into a pulp’.
“I feared so much for my safety that I ultimately had to move to the front of the train and press the emergency button to alert staff of my situation.”
Charles says he heard the two individuals say they had just got out of prison and when he asked staff what they were going to do about these individuals, they said: “What can be done?”
On another occasion, he was sitting across from a wheelchair user at a table when the couple sitting to his right at another table began “performing oral sex and mutual masturbation”.
“I would have liked to move but I felt compelled to stay with the wheelchair user because he was not able to move elsewhere,” he said. “There was no conductor on the train.”
An Irish Rail spokesperson said that passengers who encounter inappropriate sexual behaviour should alert a staff member or gardaí, but they “stress that incidents such as this are extremely rare”.
On another occasion, Charles witnessed a drug dealer sit directly across from him and empty his rucksack “with what appeared to be cocaine wrapped in small balls of cling film and proceeded to count them”.
He said Connolly Station presents too many problems and embarrassments.
“I am faced with many homeless, drug addicts and undesirable persons loitering in the vicinity.
“The cleanliness of the train station and its environs leaves a lot to be desired, from rubbish, unpleasant stains, smell of urine in the elevator next to the Luas and indeed weeds along the front of the iconic building and its curtilage,” he said.
Meanwhile, while regularly travelling on the 7.16am Dart from Clongriffin southbound, Irish Rail customer Alan Breathnach recalls the train stopping one morning for an unusual amount of time at Harmonstown, Dublin.
He looked to the carriage ahead and its passengers.
“I saw all the people in the carriage ahead of me get off and I overheard someone say ‘fire’,” said Mr Breathnach.
Everyone in the carriages rushed to disembark as they saw a continuous amount of “smoke coming out from under the carriage ahead of us”.
Thankfully, no fire broke out, but passengers had to wait to board another Dart.
Many took to social media to document concerns with their train service.
Some users complained about the cleanliness of the train services.
According to Irish Rail, their trains are “cleaned regularly to a high standard”. They added that if a passenger is unsatisfied with their carriage, they can send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Other users complained about crowded carriages and confusion over assigned seats.
Eoin was travelling in a packed three-carriage train, where he reckons there were 10 to 15 people standing at the ends of each carriage. “Another carriage should have absorbed that excess. I think it’s very unfair to be leaving customers short like this.
“Nowadays, the trains are coming into our midlands station quite busy. I’ve been lucky in getting a seat, but I cannot imagine I’m too far away from having to stand the whole way to Dublin – ahead of a long, busy day at work.”
This overcrowding can also lead to difficulties in assuring assigned seats.
“The lockdown is over folks and trains are full. People pay thousands of euros for tickets each year and you can’t guarantee a seat?” said Eoin.
A user on Twitter communicated similar grievances.
Irish Rail says it is “currently in the final phase of recruitment of on board customer service officers… once that is complete all Intercity services will have a presence on board to assist customers” with issues such as overcrowding or assigned seats.