Gardaí will increase patrols on trains after noticing an increase in addicts travelling on the rail network to Dublin so that they can purchase drugs during the lockdown.
As part of a special policing plan, gardaí have been working closely with Irish Rail in a bid to tackle the problem on a number of different routes.
The problem is particularly acute in the Kildare garda division where community policing units have been deployed to train stations and to travel on trains.
A senior source said: “They are using the rail network to travel to train stations in west Dublin such as Clondalkin/Fonthill or the city centre from towns such as Portaloise, Portarlington, Newbridge and Kildare so that they can buy drugs and then travel back to their home towns.
“It is not a nice situation for example for an elderly person who is travelling for a hospital appointment to be faced with these type of individuals who are often off their head on drugs.
“Irish Rail have provided gardaí with a timetable of the problematic trains in terms of drugs and anti-social behaviour and these are most common in the morning time and it is these trains that gardaí have been focusing on,” the source explained.
Under the current travel restrictions people are expected not to travel more than five kilometres from their home and last week at Kildare Town Garda Station two men received fixed penalty notices for not observing the travel restrictions.
“These were two highly intoxicated individuals who were well in breach of the regulations. They got out of the train in Kildare and then ran away from gardaí across the train tracks,” the source explained.
“When gardaí caught up with them they claimed that they had missed their stop at Sallins which is over 28km away – they were issued with the on-the-spot fine.”
Gardaí have had some significant seizures from people travelling on the rail network, including a juvenile teenage boy who was caught with a large haul of cannabis on a train in Co Kildare after travelling from Westport, Co Mayo, to Dublin to buy €2,000 worth of the drug.
He was later cautioned under the Garda Youth Diversion Programme.
When contacted about the issue, Barry Kenny, the corporate communications manager at Irish Rail said: “Our local management meet regularly with gardaí collectively from Ballyfermot to Portlaoise to review all issues and coordinate policing support.
“Gardaí are very active in supporting us on issues relating to non-essential travel and anti-social behaviour including in Clondalkin Fonthill and along the Heuston commuter routes.”
There has been a number of incidents in which trains have been delayed because of people using drugs on them including on Monday evening of last week.
Gardaí were called to the incident, which led to the 6pm service from the Dublin to Cork stopped at Hazelhatch, Co Kildare, for over half an hour until the suspects were removed by officers.
Since the health pandemic began, gardaí have been boarding trains on a much more regular basis and have even removed passengers who refuse to where face masks including in one incident at Thurles, Co Tipperary last July.
The wearing of face masks is compulsory on public transport, with staff including drivers and ticket inspectors permitted to refuse entry to those not complying.