Attacks on rail staff reach new high

Assaults on rail staff have reached record levels as passenger frustration
mounts over the quality of the transport system, according to the Health and
Safety Executive.

Reported attacks on rail staff rose by 22 per cent to 462 in the 12-month
period to March 2001, up from 379 the previous year.

There were more than 282 assaults on mainland railway staff, according to
the HSE’s annual safety report.

Attacks on London Underground staff have increased by more than two-thirds,
with 169 staff assaulted in the past year compared to 101 the year before.

Jacques Goodall, head of personnel at Thames Trains, agrees with the HSE
that one reason for the increase is the continuing unreliability of the

He said, "Thames Trains has seen an increase in both physical and
verbal attacks on its staff, although at 10 per cent it is less than the
average. We have found it is normally ticket inspectors who are assaulted.

"Rail services have deteriorated over the past 12 months and this has
not helped to ease tensions.

"As a policy we send all our customer service staff on conflict
management courses, and I have no doubt that this has helped lower our assault
rate. It would also certainly help if the performance of the trains

Mike Gooddie, HR director at GNER, said the company has just employed a
conflict resolution specialist to advise the train company’s 900
customer-focused staff.

He said, "Employees now know where to get advice on behavioural issues
to back up the conflict resolution training that is provided."

However, there is better news for the beleagured industry in that the health
and safety of its staff is improving, with major injuries to staff falling by
12 per cent to 300.

Minor injuries increased by 3 per cent from 2,065 to 2,135, but the number
of rail staff whose ill health had a direct relation to their job fell from 62
to 28.

By Paul Nelson

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