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Transport union to launch drive to tackle assaults on railway workers

TRANSPORT union RMT will convene a summit of unions, employers and police in a drive to tackle assaults on railway workers, its AGM in Hull declared today.

In a sobering session, several delegates gave harrowing testimony of either being assaulted or being aware of colleagues suffering attacks across the railway.

Mandy Evans (Swansea No 1 branch) told conference: “We’ve had two serious assaults in Swansea in the last two years.”

After detailing her own difficult experiences on the railway, Ms Evans went on to talk about a colleague who, after being viciously attacked following a ticket inspection, is now looked after by his wife as his full-time carer.

“The girl who did it is still allowed to travel on our trains every day,” she said. “This is very serious, and I wholeheartedly urge my brothers and sisters to bring this motion forward.”

Nigel Holden (Leicester & Rutland) pointed out that many assaults are going unreported, so the true number will be much higher.

“When an assault does occur, don’t expect any support from the British Transport Police (BTP),” he warned.

Several delegates raised cuts to the force as a reason why officers did not always attend incidents as the transport police are under-resourced and short-staffed.

Mr Holden said: “A guard colleague of mine called 999 twice after he was spat at and threatened on a train. No-one attended.”

Ebony West-Kingston (Neasden branch) said: “For the majority of my shifts, I am on my own. If I do find myself in a situation where I am physically assaulted, I have to call the police. 

“And the constant cutbacks on BTP are horrendous. If things are not improved or sorted out soon, we could see people losing their lives.”

Mick Ramsay (South West Midlands) said that railway workers not operating on trains or stations can still be attacked while going about their duties.

He said: “I attend infrastructure faults on the track, and that includes level crossings, which fail often.

“As a lone worker, I am having to deal with agitated drivers who cannot get to their destination and we’re the first person to get it in the neck.”

He added that he was assaulted a few years ago and that he believed funding for police was going into armed response units rather than the BTP.

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