TRAIN operator, Northern Rail, has released figures showing a large reduction in the number of assaults on its employees.

Physical assaults against staff were down 38 per cent year-on-year in 2013, with 95 reported incidents taking place, half the number they were in 2009 (186).

Gary Stewart, Northern’s safety and assurance director, said: “We are very encouraged by the reduction in incidents and this is due to a number of initiatives we have worked hard on over recent years.

“We have implemented a successful ‘Stay Safe’ conflict avoidance programme that trains our front line teams on how to deal with potentially threatening situations and provides them with the tools to diffuse them calmly.

“Our ‘Stay Safe’ roadshows run throughout the year to reach as many of our employees as possible around our network.

“Alongside our industry partners, the British Transport Police, we have also run operations to resolve issues on specific lines of routes where alcohol related problems have been prolific.

“We want to ensure our employees and customers feel safe and that others understand we will not tolerate anti-social behaviour or excessive alcohol consumption on-board our services.”

Northern’s specialist Rail Response Team, patrols the network to tackle anti-social behaviour, and increased its level of activity last year, supporting front line employees and customers, helping to control crowds and keep the peace when required.

Northern installed 23 additional CCTV systems in 2013, bringing the number of stations covered up to 195, giving customers added peace of mind and providing a deterrent to would be criminals.

Gary added: “Any assault on a member of our staff is completely unacceptable and every one of them has the right to feel safe while they carry out their duties.

“To see such a large reduction in incidents is very positive and our employees are certainly seeing the benefit of the programmes we have in place.

“We expect to the see the number continue to decrease as we keep our focus on making the railway a safe place to work and travel.”

The number of staff physical assaults is at a low level of one assault per 1.02 million customer journeys, which is the best it has been since the franchise began in 2004.