Operation Twin Tracks: Rail safety day meets public cynicism

On November 16, the yearly “Operation Twin Tracks” was conducted by An Garda Síochána with the aim to improve “rail safety” and “community engagement”. However, many still feel that not enough is being done to ensure safety on public transport.

Photo: Sean Norman

Despite the initiative’s good intentions, some passengers told The Liberty it places the onus of crime prevention on the individual instead of the Garda or Transport for Ireland (TFI) – and is simply an empty display.

“I don’t want to be told how to avoid being harassed on the Luas – I want it to never happen in the first place,” said Imogen Smith, an office worker whose daily commute consists of riding the Luas red line to her workplace in the Docklands. She said she often feels “vulnerable” being alone on the Luas.

Photo: Sean Norman

The Garda operation comes after multiple reported attacks on the Luas, including one outside the Broadstone stop at TU Dublin’s Grangegorman campus.

Many of these attacks are apparently racially motivated and violent.

Sinn Féin spokesperson for Transport and Communications, Martin Kenny TD, said Operation Twin Tracks “cannot negate the very clear need for a dedicated Public Transport Policing division within An Garda Síochána.”

Complaints about anti-social behaviour on Luas services rose by 27% last year with over 1,000 complaints being lodged to the Luas Call Centre. The company operating the Luas, Transdev, has acknowledged the increase which they attribute to a rise in passenger numbers and awareness about reporting “anti-social behaviour”.

Security staff for the Luas told the Liberty that it’s more dangerous than ever on the Luas now. “We feel completely powerless in violent situations,” one security worker, who wished to remain anonymous, said. “We aren’t allowed to put our hands on passengers so often all we can do is stand back and hope it doesn’t get worse.”

Photo Credit: Sean Norman

Martin O’Donnell, 71, says, “I’ll often ask the fella doing security to walk me to the end of the stop, I barely feel safe getting on the thing let alone walking by myself in the dark.”

Despite overwhelming support for a resolute Garda public transport unit – with a poll from “The Journal” finding 89% of people would be in favour of its establishment – An Garda Síochána and the National Transport Authority (NTA) both insist the current security arrangements are adequate.

“We don’t just need one day of feeling safe at a Luas stop,” ommuter Shannon O’Neill said. “We deserve to feel safe every time we take a trip.”

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