'Lives at risk' as thugs put block on rails
RAIL passengers are being put in grave danger by vandals putting cement blocks on tracks.
Two major disasters were narrowly averted recently by alert drivers who spotted the blocks just in time to halt the train.
Irish Rail, gardai, local authority and community leaders have come together for a joint meeting in Ballyfermot Civic Centre to discuss how best to tackle the growing problem.
In recent incidents blocks were left on the rail line between Parkwest-Cherry Orchard station and Lavery Avenue in Ballyfermot.
This is one of the busiest sections of track on the entire rail network carrying about 17,000 passengers a day between Dublin and Cork/Kerry.
Irish Rail officials said that the trains could have been derailed if the blocks had not been seen on time.
"The drivers saw the blocks ahead of them and stopped the train," a spokesman said.
"Luckily they had just pulled out of the station and were not going fast or there would have been a very serious accident."
The spokeswoman explained that Irish Rail has had ongoing problems on this stretch of track with people breaching the fences, illegally dumping rubbish and throwing stones at the trains.
This is the first time, however, that cement blocks have been placed on the line at this or any other location on the rail network.
The spokesperson said they were now looking at stronger fencing and at "enhancing CCTV along the line in that area."
The meeting to discuss the issue was shown footage of the Greenock train crash in Scotland in 1994 where the late night Glasgow train was derailed by blocks on the track, killing the driver and a passenger.
Scottish police treated the accident as a murder investigation and apprehended two 17-year-olds, Gary Dougan and Craig Houston, both from Greenock who were each jailed for 15 years for culpable homicide.
The meeting discussed ways to stop children and young people from accessing the railway line and improving the security of the rail line.
This time last year a train driver was taken to hospital when a large rock was thrown through his cabin window by a teenager on a bridge above the railway line.
Ten days earlier three children placed a piece of steel on the same rail line near Bagenalstown, Co Carlow.