ScotRail staff threatened with knives, makeshift flame throwers and fire extinguishers, dossier reveals

ScotRail staff have been threatened with knives, makeshift flame throwers and fire extinguishers, a dossier of dozens of incidents compiled by union leaders has revealed.

The chilling assaults also include passengers grabbing train crew or threatening to beat them up.

Yobs were also reported trying to light fires on trains and scorching seats, and smashing windows and equipment in train cabs.

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In one of the statements, seen by The Scotsman, a staff member said: “Anti-social behaviour on the trains has been at an all-time high.

British Transport Police has warned that rail violence will increase. Picture: John DevlinBritish Transport Police has warned that rail violence will increase. Picture: John Devlin
British Transport Police has warned that rail violence will increase. Picture: John Devlin

"Back shifts we are overrun by teenagers that show us no respect, drug addicts and drunks.”

Details of the dossier from the Rail, Maritime and Transport union (RMT) came as British Transport Police (BTP) warned of an expected increase in violence on Scotland’s railways after reporting an 8 per cent rise in violent crime.

Anti-social behaviour among under-18s also jumped by 63 per cent in the year to March compared to pre-Covid 2019-20, while threatening and abusive behaviour overall was up by nearly one third.

The upsurge has already prompted some rail commuters to drive to work instead, with one woman describing the “nightmare” of witnessing two incidents on Glasgow-Gourock trains, including youths trying to smash security cameras and windows.

In the other, she said: “A large group got on at Greenock and were drinking alcohol and smoking joints.

"They took over a carriage and were really loud and intimidating.

“It was really unpleasant and upsetting to watch.”

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RMT Scottish organiser Mick Hogg said: “Youths see the railway as a haven to cause havoc.

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"It provides them with ideal opportunity to gather, use the wifi and charge their devices.

"Police are arresting juveniles and taking their home, only for them to be back on the trains hours later.”

Hogg backed proposals being considered by ministers to ban those convicted from the rail network, but has threatened staff boycotts of affected routes unless there is a higher police presence.

In the dossier, covering incidents of lines in and around Glasgow over the last six months, there are numerous reports of staff being abused and threatened by passengers.

One said: “Kids verbally abuse and threaten to ‘do me in’ for asking for tickets."

Another said a passenger “started getting aggressive, punching the train seats, and asking my colleague what time his shift finished and that he would see him then.

"He told me he wouldn’t touch a girl, but he would get his girlfriend to come and batter me as well.”

Another report referred to a group of youths boarding a train at Shettleston who told the ticket examiner they would “hit me or knock me out”.

Staff also said:

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- "I have had a passenger threatening to stab me when I asked to check his ticket at Clydebank”.

- “I was chased by a makeshift flame thrower by a teenager that had no regard for anyone’s safety.”

- “Passengers said youths had tried more than one fire extinguisher but thankfully I only had one thrown at me.”

- “As I walk past a group of six men in their mid to late 20s, two of them grab me on the legs, thighs and hips.”

A BTP report to the Scottish Railways Policing Committee next week stated: “It is expected that violence will likely increase [in] the next quarter along with the warmer weather and busier services.”

The Scotsman has already revealed that three members of a special ScotRail unit formed to tackle anti-social behaviour were attacked on a train on Good Friday, with one taken to hospital.

Transport minister Jenny Gilruth said: “I’m appalled to hear of these recent incidents and I wish all affected staff a speedy and full recovery.

"All rail staff have the right to expect a safe working environment.

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“We are very clear that anti-social behaviour by anyone of any age is unacceptable on our railways and in wider society."

She said an “enhanced” BTP presence on “hot spot” routes had been launched last weekend.

ScotRail security and crime manager Stephen Elliot said: “ScotRail works very closely with BTP to ensure that Scotland’s Railway is a safe environment for our customers, and our own people.

“BTP figures show reported notifiable crimes in Scotland are among the lowest in the UK.

“We will continue to work closely with the BTP to clamp down on unacceptable behaviour and prosecute offenders.”