Attacks on trains is a national problem

23 April 2009

ASLEF has released details of attacks on trains that show that rail vandalism is a serious and potentially highly dangerous national problem.

 

Yesterday evening (22 April) between six and eleven Central Line tube trains were attacked by gangs between White City and Acton Town. Most of the tube trains had to be withdrawn from service after being pelted with stones and other objects. One source said an air-gun had also been used in the brainless incident.

 

ASLEF’s London officer Steve Grant says that the long-term solution must include improving fencing to ‘keep morons away from rails’. In the interim he has called for increased police presence near the track involving helicopters as well as ground based officers.

 

‘Our members have the right to work without threats of violence, just as the public have the right to protection,’ Steve says. ‘If no measures are taken to protect passengers and staff, we will consider suspending the service until they are adequately safeguarded.’

 

The union says that the problem of hooligan vandalism need to be tackled on a social level and must include the assistance of parents, teachers and community leaders as well as the police.

 

SAME PROBLEM IN THE NORTH

 

Sadly the London incident is by no means an isolated case. Recently two drivers who are members of ASLEF’s Skipton branch have been involved in acts of wanton vandalism.

The first incident concerned a large rock thrown from a bridge that hit the cab windscreen causing such considerable damage that the train had to be taken out of service. The driver concerned was shocked but thankfully unharmed.

The second incident, in the same area, involved a train that hit an 18-inch piece of rail deliberately placed on the line. Again the train was damaged and had to be taken out of service. Fortunately on this occasion no harm except shock came to the driver or any passengers. But it is only by good fortune that the incident did not have catastrophic consequences. The train was accelerating at over 60 mph when it hit the rail. At the track side is a row of terrace housing that is down a short embankment. If this train had been derailed, then there could have been many casualties if not fatalities.

The Transport Police arrested two youths aged 12 and 14 for the second incident and although the pair were also suspected of committing the other offence, the police were unable to provide proof.

Martin Exley, Secretary of the union’s Skipton Branch, says, ‘The most worrying aspect of the whole case as far as my branch is concerned, is that one youth pleaded guilty but only received a £50 fine and a 6 months behaviour order.

‘The second youth has pleaded not guilty and has elected to go to Crown Court because, presumably, he feels that he may be acquitted.

 

‘We condemn this sort of behaviour without reservations, and will continue to insist that the justice system does not deal out weak sentences to proved offenders.’

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