By Bill Heaney

Updated on June 30 at 4. 30pm

Trains from Dumbarton to Helensburgh and Balloch have been plagued by fighting, drinking and other antisocial behaviour by youths in recent weeks and months.

However, Fiona Hyslop, the new Transport Minister, says she is determined to stamp that out.

She told MSPs today: “This is clearly unacceptable on Scotland’s public transport and in wider society, and we are committed to tackling it.

“The police, local authorities and other agencies are responsible for tackling such behaviour at local level, and they have been empowered by the Scottish Government to co-ordinate activities designed to tackle it, such as formal warnings, fixed-penalty notices and antisocial behaviour orders, alongside the positive diversionary and early intervention activities that can be used.

“Police Scotland and local authority antisocial behaviour teams support bus operators to enforce their conditions of carriage. British Transport Police is responsible for law enforcement on Scotland’s railway network.

Kenneth Gibson MSP raised concerns that the young persons free bus travel scheme is being abused “by a small minority of young people who engage in antisocial behaviour on our bus network, thereby deterring others from travelling.

“Have any offenders had their bus passes withdrawn? What other actions are being taken specifically to reassure bus drivers, and the overwhelming majority of passengers who are keen to travel by bus safely, that harassment and intimidation will not be tolerated?”

Fiona Hyslop, pictured right,  replied: “It is right to remember that the vast majority of young people who travel by bus behave appropriately, with more than 68 million journeys having been made by the end of May.

“Free bus travel is just one of the services that are provided through the national entitlement card, which can also be used to access a variety of national and local public services such as free school meals and cashless catering.

“As such, it would not be appropriate for transport operators to remove cards from card holders due to the impact that that might have on other services.

“However, the Scottish Government recognises that there is not a single approach to tackling antisocial behaviour; there is a suite of enforcement measures, which I have just mentioned, plus safe intervention. It is important that we work with our partners on tackling such behaviour.”

Meanwhile, it was reported on Friday that police are investigating an alleged assault on a ScotRail service after a viral video on social media showed an apparent altercation involving a group of young men.

In the video, which has been viewed more than one million times on Twitter in just one day, an argument takes place between an older man and a group of youngsters on a train reportedly from Paisley to Glasgow.

At one point the man’s hat is taken before he is struck by multiple people.  British Transport Police (BTP) said the incident happened earlier this month.

A spokesperson said: “Officers are aware of a video on social media which relates to a report of an assault on board a train to Glasgow on June 1.

“Anyone with information can contact BTP by texting 61016 quoting reference 670 of June 1, 2023.”

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