POLICE have condemned “mindless vandals”, who left the driver of a passenger train with eye injuries after smashing his cab window with stones.
The 51-year-old was taken to hospital after the attack near Newton station in Lanarkshire on Wednesday night.
British Transport Police (BTP) said the ScotRail driver had got a piece of glass in his eye after stones thrown from a line-side field broke one of the cab windows shortly after 10pm.
The driver managed to pull the glass out but was taken to Hairmyres Hospital in East Kilbride.
ScotRail said the 20 passengers on the 9:37pm Larkhall to Dalmuir service had been taken off the train when it was removed from service at Newton.
Detective Constable Andrew Shields, of BTP, who is leading the hunt for the assailants, condemned those responsible.
He said: “The mindless vandals who threw the objects at the train must realise their actions put rail staff and passengers in real danger.
“The consequences could have been extremely serious and therefore I am appealing for anyone who has information regarding the identity of those involved to get in touch as matter of urgency.”
A BTP spokesman said: “It looks as though someone has been throwing stones at the train, they’ve broken a window of the train and the driver had a minor eye injury. He had some flying glass in his eye.”
ScotRail said the driver, believed to be from Motherwell, had been released from hospital on Wednesday night.
A spokeswoman said: “We do not tolerate crime of any kind and hope the person or people responsible are brought to justice.”
Under the Emergency Workers (Scotland) Act 2005, attacks on emergency services staff carry higher penalties. The rail union Aslef said the Scottish Government should extend that to cover train drivers.
Aslef Scottish secretary Kevin Lindsay said: “A train driver being injured by someone throwing a stone at a train they are driving should have the same protection in law as someone driving an ambulance or fire engine.”
The Scottish Government said workers were already protected under Scotland’s common law of assault, with maximum penalties of life imprisonment and unlimited fines.
A spokeswoman said: “This gives the police, prosecutors and courts the tools to ensure those who attack public-facing workers can be dealt with appropriately and effectively.”
Attacks on trains appear to have been sharply reduced compared with a decade ago.
However, two years ago, a cab window on a ScotRail train was smashed by a lit “petrol bomb” thrown from a bridge near Dunning in Perthshire. Fortunately, the driver escaped injury.