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Author Topic: Article: It's a war zone, say Melbourne's train drivers  (Read 788 times)

Offline ozbob

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Article: It's a war zone, say Melbourne's train drivers
« on: June 13, 2010, 04:23:06 AM »
From the Melbourne Age click here!

It's a war zone, say Melbourne's train drivers

Quote
It's a war zone, say Melbourne's train drivers
CHRIS JOHNSTON
June 12, 2010

WALID came home bleeding from the nose and mouth three Mondays ago. His head and face were bruised and his hands and fingers cut because when he was attacked he fell to the hard concrete and tried in vain to hold tight. They punched and kicked and kept stomping on his head.

They stole his tools, $700 worth. Walid Mesto is 17, an apprentice plumber from a good family.

He was at the busy train and bus interchange at Hoppers Crossing at peak hour, 6pm, waiting for a bus home to nearby Tarneit after travelling by train from Sunshine.

There were seven on him. "Aussies," he says. He saw them pointing and then they jumped him. "I nearly swallowed my heart." There were plenty of onlookers but, except for one, they offered nothing.

Walid knew it was coming. He knew something would happen to him on or near a train because that was how it was.

An onlooker videoed the attack on his phone, helped Walid walk home and later sent him the video. It shows a boy among the older gang of attackers, riding a scooter. Legal sources say he is 13 and known to police. No charges have yet been laid.

Walid's father Ziad, a scrap metal dealer with a big yard in Hoppers Crossing, grew up around Tottenham in the 1970s when certain parts were called ''The Bronx'', but he says it's much worse out on the lines now for his kids. "They could have pulled a blade and done him right there," he says. ''For a father this is horrible and I ask, where are their parents?"

This is just one story among so many, some in police data, some not. Melbourne's beleaguered trains and the stations and the often-perilous areas around them have become a "war zone", according to one veteran train driver who broke ranks to speak to The Age this week.

''John'', who asked that his surname not be used, has been bashed twice himself and witnessed countless others.

He collects the knives he has begun to find on trains. "Carving knives," he says, "and fishing knives."

Maybe they were left behind by butchers or fishermen? It's public transport after all, anyone can get on, which makes it good but also makes it bad. John laughs. The knives have modified handles and ground blades. "They're designed to cause damage," he says.

An Auditor-General's report to the state government this week revealed train assaults were increasing.

The report said there were 7055 offences last financial year. The government maintains the trains are safe, but the state opposition says the numbers are understated.

Less than 10 per cent of Melburnians use trains daily to travel to and from work, according to census data. The report said that in tandem with the increase in crime there was a corresponding perception of it; that is, the expectation that crime could happen.

Last weekend a gang of youths went on the rampage at McKinnon station on the Frankston line, throwing rocks, abusing passengers and leaving a victim in hospital with head injuries.

It's all about timing and luck and being in the wrong place at the wrong time.

Patterson is one stop from McKinnon and city librarian ''Michelle'' was threatened by a 13-year-old boy with scissors before 10am on Thursday. Last Sunday a teenage boy was bashed and ended up on the tracks at Gardenvale. Two Thursdays ago a group of six went after taxi drivers outside Werribee station with rocks and metal bars.

Many of these things stay secret. On Wednesday a young bloke smashed furniture in the Caulfield station's staff office after being detained for having no ticket. The next night at notorious Noble Park on the Pakenham line a large group of young African men staggered around the platform. One vomited. Another got on a 9.47pm city train and fell down in the aisle and stayed there.

''John'' the driver says most drivers now lock their cabin doors because they fear being attacked while stopped at stations, especially the bad ones: Noble Park, Ferntree Gully, Bayswater, Mordialloc, Newport, Ringwood.

When they shunt trains in the dead of night to the yard in North Melbourne they get taxis back to Flinders Street instead of walking.

John says it all changed four years ago in tandem with rising violent crime in the CBD. It got worse exactly six months ago - last summer.

A dossier of reports from station staff to Public Transport Safety Victoria, obtained by The Age, shows that over a two-week period at that time - December 2009 - there was a litany of incidents all over Melbourne: a man covered in toilet paper running amok at Williamstown, four youths with knives at Box Hill, a man stabbed in the head with a broken bottle at Frankston, unconscious drug users at Sunshine, a shirtless man urinating on the drinks machine at Footscray, a sexual assault at Melbourne Central and an attack at Bayswater in which a 16-year-old was "pummelled, shoved and pushed" in the subway.

None of this news is to Walid Mesto and his father Ziad. Police and media, they say, know some things but far from all things, and even if they did know they may not be all that interested.

Both had feared that someone would get hurt sooner rather than later. "Things have been feeling uncomfortable," says Walid.
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Offline ozbob

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Re: Article: It's a war zone, say Melbourne's train drivers
« Reply #1 on: June 13, 2010, 04:24:56 AM »
When the staff were withdrawn from stations this set up a culture of miscreant behaviour.  It is now taking an enormous effort to turn it back around.  This should serve as a warning to all other states, superficial ill thought out staff cuts just lead to massive problems and much greater costs in the long term.
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Offline Lapdog Transit

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Re: Article: It's a war zone, say Melbourne's train drivers
« Reply #2 on: June 13, 2010, 10:32:28 AM »
They should have guards at the station or on the train. Even dogs with the guards are good.
I'm not so sure about general staff. General railway staff are not security guards, security guards and dogs are probably better.
The interchange is also likely to be far from the station office.

If hotspots were known (locals in the area seem to be in the know) guards & dogs could target these places on patrols. I'm sure I've seen something like this at Beenleigh railway station at night.

The other question is, how long was he waiting for a bus? Poor timetable co-ordination with buses may also have been a factor here- the longer people are waiting (20, 30, 30 min+?), the more chance there is of something happening to them. A bus stop in a large, probably poorly lit and desolate open carpark at night doesn't sound very safe.

« Last Edit: June 13, 2010, 10:37:16 AM by tramtrain »
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Offline nikko

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Re: Article: It's a war zone, say Melbourne's train drivers
« Reply #3 on: June 13, 2010, 07:13:12 PM »
They should have guards at the station or on the train. Even dogs with the guards are good.
I'm not so sure about general staff. General railway staff are not security guards, security guards and dogs are probably better.
The interchange is also likely to be far from the station office.

If hotspots were known (locals in the area seem to be in the know) guards & dogs could target these places on patrols. I'm sure I've seen something like this at Beenleigh railway station at night.

The other question is, how long was he waiting for a bus? Poor timetable co-ordination with buses may also have been a factor here- the longer people are waiting (20, 30, 30 min+?), the more chance there is of something happening to them. A bus stop in a large, probably poorly lit and desolate open carpark at night doesn't sound very safe.



Security guards can't do anything more than railway staff. A mix of both is the most sensible option and works here.

 

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