Train trouble witness plea

Police detain Middlesbrough-bound Sunderland fans on a train at Hartlepool Railway Station last night (WEDS) after reports that they had damaged the train.
Police detain Middlesbrough-bound Sunderland fans on a train at Hartlepool Railway Station last night (WEDS) after reports that they had damaged the train.

POLICE and rail chiefs are urging anyone who witnessed a disturbance at a train station ahead of a football match to come forward after a railway worker suffered a broken rib.

As reported in the Hartlepool Mail yesterday, trouble flared at Hartlepool train station on Wednesday evening as hundreds of Sunderland supporters made their way to Middlesbrough for an FA Cup match.

When the 5.50pm service stopped at Hartlepool en-route to Middlesbrough, station staff noticed a large window on the rear carriage had been smashed and all passengers were told to leave the train until a replacement service was called.

Lighting inside the carriages had also been damaged, and seats had been ripped out.

During the hour-long wait, disgruntled fans caused disorder on the platform and police were called to deal with the ugly scenes.

During the disturbance, a member of Northern Rail’s staff suffered a broken rib and had to be rushed to hospital.

He was released later on Wednesday night.

Richard Allan, assistant area director for Northern Rail, said: “We provided extra carriages on the 17.50 Sunderland–Middlesbrough service to help cater for any fans travelling to the FA Cup replay on Wednesday night.

“When the train arrived at Hartlepool, two carriages were removed due to a broken window and damage to seating and light fittings.

“A disturbance broke out as we moved passengers to another train to continue their journey. A member of staff was injured and treated at hospital for a broken rib.

“Our employees and regular passengers should not have to suffer the mindless actions of a small minority, so I would urge anyone with any information about last night’s events to contact British Transport Police.”

A spokeswoman for British Tranpsort Police (BTP) added: “We are appealing for information after a train was badly damaged by football fans.

“For safety reasons the train had to be taken out of service at Hartlepool, and the fans were detained on the platform.

“We are also investigating reports that two members of rail staff were also assaulted during the incident.

“Disorder or anti-social behaviour of any kind on the rail network is unacceptable and there are many others travelling who should not have to be subjected to this.”

Officers from BTP have launched an investigation into the trouble, and spent yesterday studying CCTV footage from the train.

The damaged train remains out of service and is being forensically examined for evidence.

Anyone with information is asked to call BTP on 0800 40 50 40 quoting reference 162 of 08/02/2012, or Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.