Police probe drunken gang on train to Edinburgh

One of the gang exposed himself on the service from London Kings Cross to Edinburgh. Picture: Jon Savage
One of the gang exposed himself on the service from London Kings Cross to Edinburgh. Picture: Jon Savage
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A GANG of around a dozen drink-fuelled revellers launched an “appalling” campaign of intimidation and harassment on a busy train – with one even flashing at startled onlookers.

Police are appealing for information after a group of men spent a journey from Newcastle to Edinburgh harassing women, throwing alcohol around, banging on the carriage roof and threatening those who complained.

Find a solution that prevents the worst excesses but still allows sensible drinking

BRUCE WILLIAMSON

Politicians and transport campaigners condemned the “idiotic” yobs and called for a national debate on the problem of drinking on trains and a ban on passengers carrying their own alcohol on board.

The drunken gang boarded the Peterborough to Waverley service at Newcastle shortly before 2.20pm on Sunday, August 30 – as thousands of tourists were flocking to the Capital for the festival fireworks.

The men – who had all been drinking heavily and are believed to be from Edinburgh – then proceeded to intimidate
other travellers and are reported to have made inappropriate comments and gestures towards women.

They were also spotted lying on the overhead luggage racks – with one member of the group even exposing himself.

Other passengers were forced to move due to the gang’s behaviour and one was even threatened.

Following their arrival at Waverley just before 4pm, one of the thugs then jumped on to the railway line towards Princes Street Gardens in a bid to escape police officers.

Police are understood to have taken the details of the other men and are now appealing for witnesses.

Bruce Williamson, spokesman for the campaign group Railfuture, called for a national debate on the problem of drinking on trains.

He said: “In terms of alcohol, there needs to be a sensible
middle ground that allows responsible drinking but prevents irresponsible behaviour.

“I think there’s scope for a public debate on these problems in order to find a workable solution that prevents the worst excesses but still allows sensible drinking.”

David Sidebottom, passenger director at the independent watchdog Transport Focus, said the best deterrent against crime was “visible staff and police presence”.

And Lothian Tory MSP Cameron Buchanan insisted drunk people should be banned from boarding trains – with passengers prevented from taking their own alcohol on board.

A spokesman for Virgin Trains East Coast, which was operating the service, insisted individual routes and journeys were closely monitored – with drink bans rolled out in problem hotspots.

He said Virgin was “fully supporting” the transport police but insisted such incidents were a “rare occurrence”.

Constable Liam Cronin, who is in charge of the investigation, said: “The behaviour of this group can only be described as appalling.”