Violent and criminal incidents on trains and in stations jump over 50%

Violent And Criminal Incidents On Trains And In Stations Jump Over 50%
The latest Irish Rail safety report found the number of criminal or violent incidents rose by more than half in the last quarter of 2023. Photo: PA Images
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Ken Foxe

Incidents of violence and crime on rail services and in train stations were up by more than half in the final three months of last year compared to 2022.

The latest safety report from Irish Rail reveals there were 325 reportable incidents between October and December, including assaults and fights, as a major crackdown on anti-social activity took place, supported by gardaí.


There were 191 cases of aggressive behaviour, 40 instances of assault, and 37 reports of fights on trains or in stations.

Also logged by the rail operator were 17 incidents of “lewd behaviour”, 4 of unspecified antisocial behaviour, and 33 cases of theft of third-party property.

Some of the specific incidents in the latest report included an assault on a staff member on board a train in Waterford, an attack on a contractor at Kent Station in Cork, and lewd behaviour on board a late-night service from Heuston to Portlaoise.

The 325 total reportable incidents for Q4 of 2023 were substantially up on the 209 recorded during the same period of 2022.


'Non-reportable' incidents

Irish Rail also logged 382 “non-reportable” incidents, which involved cases of less serious anti-social behaviour.

This included 75 cases of boisterous behaviour, four cases of dangerous cycling or skateboarding, and 24 instances where an intervention was required to prevent anti-social activity.

There were also 54 cases of loitering, 24 incidents of interference with passenger emergency systems, and 67 reports of criminal damage or vandalism.

Incidents of smoking or drinking in areas where it was prohibited, as well as drug use, were recorded on 500 occasions.


The safety report listed 256 cases of people who were severely under the influence of drugs or alcohol, and 86 cases of possession of illicit narcotics.

The number of cases of trespass, where people were found on railway lines or in other areas where they were not allowed, reduced significantly in the final quarter of last year.

There were 146 cases recorded between October and December, which compared favourably with the 207 that were reported during the same period of 2022.

The report showed that the highest levels of serious anti-social behaviour were on the Northern Line (134 reportable incidents) and on mainline services (74 reportable incidents).


A further eighteen reportable incidents were recorded in Cork and seventeen in Limerick, which taken together included twenty-four cases of aggressive behaviour and four assaults.

Operation Saul

In an explanatory note, Irish Rail said some of the increase in reported incidents was because of Operation Saul, a major garda initiative focused on public transport which took place late last year.

This involved 70 gardaí, along with the rail operator’s own front line and security resources, with 15 locations targeted and an increased emphasis on “on-board patrols”.

The report explained: “[There has been] increased detection, with additional resources seeing interventions at major terminus stations in particular.

“[There was also] a particular focus on tissue selling on board and this was supported with [gardaí] and Revenue protection by way of joint operations.”

Irish Rail added: “While anti-social behaviour is a societal issue, and the overwhelming majority of journeys occur without incident, we must ensure that we are providing the safest possible travelling and working environment for customers and employees respectively.”

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