Local authority, police and rail figures have agreed a robust approach to dealing with anti-social behaviour on local rail services at a multi-agency summit called by local MSP Jackie Baillie.
The Scottish Labour MSP called the emergency meeting after the RMT and train drivers’ union ASLEF threatened to boycott all services on the Helensburgh and Balloch lines beyond Dumbarton due to safety fears.
Representatives from Scotrail, Police Scotland, British Transport Police, Transport Scotland, Argyll and Bute Council and West Dunbartonshire Council attended the meeting after a recent escalation in violent threats and abuse to staff and passengers at local rail stations. The national secretaries of the RMT and ASLEF trade unions said that Scotrail staff were extremely concerned about their own safety at work and a representative of Helensburgh Community Council spoke of the impact on the local community if the rail service is withdrawn due to the disorder.
Police Scotland and the British Transport Police have brought in additional officers to step up patrols in and around Helensburgh Central, the worst affected station in the area, and the forces have both agreed to keep them in place until there is a reduction in incidents.
Scotrail has introduced security guards as a temporary measure at Helensburgh Central -; a first for the rail network in Scotland -; and Jackie Baillie called on the company to commit to maintaining the guards for as long as necessary to deter youths from congregating at the station.
Jackie Baillie has also written to the Transport Minister, Humza Yousaf, to invite him to meet local rail staff and discuss their concerns.
“I am pleased that everyone around the table is fully committed to protecting local staff and passengers on our railways and in our stations and stamping out the kind of unacceptable behaviour we have seen in recent weeks and months. There should be zero tolerance of any threats or violence on our railways.
“Everyone invited to the emergency meeting was made aware of the very real risk of losing our local rail service unless staff feel reassured that robust measures are put in place to ensure safety. Police Scotland, the British Transport Police and social work services have adopted a robust approach with an increase in activity and I will be calling another meeting in a fortnight to monitor progress.
“We need to see train services continuing to run and improved safety for those who work and travel on our railways