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Monday 16 September 2019

110 'risked their lives' by train or tram surfing

Rebecca Kelly: Suffered a brain injury after clinging to moving tram. Picture: Collins
Rebecca Kelly: Suffered a brain injury after clinging to moving tram. Picture: Collins
Collision between pedestrian and Luas

Ken Foxe

More than 110 incidents of tram or train 'surfing' have been recorded by Irish Rail and on Luas services over the past four years.

The potentially lethal activity involves a person holding on to the outside of a carriage as it moves.

It 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, who admitted she had done a "silly thing" when she was aged 13, 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 FOI reveal how there have 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 Point with Tallaght and Saggart. Tram surfing on the Green Line, which runs north-south, has been more sporadic with no incidents recorded in 2015 and 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 - which operates Luas - 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...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."

Transdev said it delivers school talks and the dangers of 'scutting' and 'surfing' are made clear at these and Garda community forums.

Irish Rail also released figures showing there had been 87 incidents of train surfing since 2016. The number remained relatively consistent at around 30 per year, with the problem almost exclusively on Dart services (75 incidents).

Spokesman Barry Kenny said it was a "continuing issue". "On-board staff, station staff and security personnel are vigilant in ensuring we respond with security or Garda support when it occurs."

Irish Rail modified the original Dart fleet of 76 carriages during refurbishment to make headlight units more difficult to grasp onto. Future fleets will come with preventative measures as part of the design.

Irish Independent

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