ScotRail ‘considering’ alcohol ban on trains

Pint picture by Stewart Cunningham

By Democrat reporter

A blanket ban on alcohol on ScotRail services could be imposed as part of Covid safety measures.

The travel operator told BBC Scotland the measure is being considered, although the firm said they were “not in a position” to confirm details.

The National Union of Rail, Maritime and Transport Workers said the move would be “problematic” but “welcomed”.

It comes after the first minister said more stringent travel rules “need to be considered”.

Mick Hogg, regional organiser for the RMT, said despite recent restrictions, rail staff were still facing “increased” anti-social behaviour over the weekend.

“There has always been a concern with anti-social behaviour and assaults on staff, it’s an ongoing issue.

“We certainly encourage our people to use the body cameras available in order to send a signal to people, and to report anti-social behaviour to the British Transport Police if it’s serious.

“A total ban on alcohol is something we’ve been advocating for a number of years.”

Mr Hogg added that while people were adhering to Covid measures “by and large”, staff still face “a lot of negativity” from members of the public towards face coverings and physical distancing.

A ScotRail spokesman said: “More than 90% of customers have complied with the requirement of wearing a face covering onboard trains and at stations since it was made mandatory on 22 June.”

‘Who will police it?’

There is also concern that people are not abiding by local restrictions in order to visit pubs elsewhere in Scotland and south of the border.

Nicola Sturgeon warned football fans to stay at home ahead of Saturday’s Old Firm clash – those hoping to watch the game in Blackpool pubs were told there would be a high police presence.

Meanwhile one train conductor also told the Edinburgh Evening News that busy weekend nights “haven’t calmed down” and that people from Glasgow and Edinburgh were travelling to Fife to visit pubs.

Mr Hogg said that while the union would welcome a blanket alcohol ban on trains, rail staff could not enforce it on top of Covid measures.

He said: “We can only advise people they shouldn’t be drinking and if that fails it’s a matter for the BTP.

“The government’s coronavirus measures are a problem for our members as it stands.

“We certainly welcome a ban but it really begs the question – who is going to police it?”

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