ScotRail staff threatened to boycott troubled routes plagued by unruly passengers, including those into Glasgow – after a ticket examiner was left ‘traumatised’ trying to eject brawling teens from a train.
The train crew member was confronted by a gang of youths hitting a younger boy with a bottle and pouring alcohol over him on a Balloch-Glasgow service on Sunday.
She contacted the British Transport Police but was told the officers had been diverted to deal with a trespasser on another line and did not arrive until after it was over.
The Rail, Maritime and Transport union said staff would boycott trouble spots if action was not taken.
The ticket examiner said she feels her safety is being jeopardised every day at work and that it’s taking its toll on her mental and physical health.
She said: “I was aware that the notorious ‘young team’ [about 15-20 young teenage boys] boarded the service at Alexandria.
“One of them, who was wearing a light green hoodie and carrying a bottle of alcohol, headed towards three young boys and challenged one of them, then proceeded to hit one of them with his bottle and poured all the alcohol over him.
“By this point, the rest of the young team were all bundled in that compact area and were going nuts.
“Two of them were physically attacking one of the boys. The other two innocent boys just sat in shock looking terrified as their pal got beaten up.
“I shouted to get them off the train and no-one was listening. When we got to Renton, as I was physically removing some of the young team off the train, they were trying to push past me to get back on.
“However, I was stood firm in the doorway and had to shout to the driver to shut the door. The boys were continuing to shout abuse and trying to figure out a way to get back on.
“Luckily, the doors closed and we got away. The young boy who suffered the attack was too scared to report anything, but what I witnessed was a horrific ordeal.
“I feel traumatised at what I have witnessed, and I feel physically sick – my blood pressure was sky high. Every day I come to work I feel my safety is being jeopardised.
“This is taking its toll on my mental and physical health. I am not happy with their (BTP) response.
“BTP turned up, took a brief statement, and advised me they had been en-route to my incident, but were told to turn around and go to another incident at Hillington involving a trespasser.
“I feel like some unknown trespasser took priority over my own safety and that of paying customers.”
She said she had had to end her shift early because of the incident and would not be returning to duty until further notice’.
RMT Scotland organiser Mick Hogg said there should be more police patrols on trains and at least two ticket examiners on every service rather than the current single one.
He said: “If the situation does not get fixed, RMT and Aslef will instruct our members not to run trains into the affected hot spots/routes until staff can go to work and be safe.
“Our railway is becoming a magnet for anti-social behaviour and nothing is getting done about it. It’s just a matter of time before there is a fatality.”
Chief Superintendent Gill Murray, BTP’s Scotland commander, has already warned of an ‘emerging threat’ of youth anti-social behaviour on trains and buses.
In March, transport minister Jenny Gilruth agreed to consider an RMT call for a new law to ban disruptive passengers from ScotRail like they can be from football grounds.
A BTP spokesperson said: “Through partnership working with ScotRail and Police Scotland, we’re working tirelessly to deter criminality and anti-social behaviour on the railway network, and we have been increasing patrols on the Balloch line using targeted operations to deter offending.
“Where offences involving youths take place, we regularly engage with schools and campus officers to identify those responsible and deal with them accordingly.
“We will take action as the railway needs to be a safe place for everyone using it.”
ScotRail security and crime manager Stephen Elliot said: “The safety of our customers and employees is our number one priority.
“Anti-social behaviour, whether that’s physical violence, verbal abuse, or any other form, is completely unacceptable.
“Everyone has the right to go about their day in peace, so we’ll continue to work with the authorities to ensure that anyone responsible for anti-social behaviour is brought to justice.”