TRAINS: Balloch .. Alexandria … Renton train staff threaten to boycott rail line plagued by ‘young team’ violence

The union says it could only be a matter of time before a member of ScotRail staff is seriously injured or killed as a result of thugs travelling on the busy route

Public outcry as teens terrorise passengers on the Dumbarton- Balloch line

By Bill Heaney

Staff on local trains train staff have threatened to boycott working on a railway line due to fears for their safety.

It comes after rail services between Glasgow and Balloch were plagued by incidents of unruly behaviour.

RMT regional organiser Mick Hogg issued the warning on behalf of ScotRail staff, saying it could only be a matter of time before one of them is seriously injured or killed as a result of thugs travelling on the route.

A ticket examiner said that she had been left traumatised after attempting to remove brawling thugs who boarded a service in Alexandria last week.

The staff member saw a gang of teenagers attack a younger boy with a bottle, and feared for her own safety as she tried to break up the fight when the train reached Renton.

Mick said that her experience was not an unusual one on local routes. He said: “One of our members was subjected to a terrifying incident when members of a notorious young team boarded the train at Alexandria.

“She managed to remove them from the train at Renton and then block the doors as the driver closed them, but it left her traumatised and fearing for her safety at work.

“That just gives you a flavour of what’s taking place on a regular basis. And no one is listening. If nobody listens then we’ll instruct our members not to work on the impacted routes.

“I’m sad to say that someone will be seriously injured or, god forbid, end up losing their life. And I don’t want to have to turn round and say ‘told you so’.”

RMT regional organiser Mick Hogg issued the warning.
RMT regional organiser Mick Hogg, pictured left,  issued the warning. 

Figures published earlier this year showed that the number of crimes reported at West Dunbartonshire train stations have rocketed by almost 50 percent.

Across the area 92 offences were reported to British Transport Police in the year up to November 2021, with criminal damage and fire-raising, violent or sexual offences and thefts all common.

While the number of passengers dropped dramatically during the pandemic, the number of crimes increased from 62 in November 2019 to 92.

A British Transport Police 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.”

A flavour of how the local travelling public feel about incidents like this is caught in the comment columns of the Glasgow Live website: “Catch them get them to do the time on cleaning the trains at night for the next 2 yrs and and tag from 9am till 5pm for the same time.”

And again: “Our government thinks it’s ok not jail anyone under 18 what did they think was going to happen.  Instead of having 20 police standing in Balloch station, why could stick a couple on the trains. Problem solved.  Scotland’s public transport is too terrifying for even the transport operator staff to be on.”

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