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SERVICES 
Tuesday, 5 March, 2002, 14:54 GMT
Rail rage tackled by classes
Rail passengers
"Unruly passengers" have caused rail staff problems
A rail company is giving staff self-defence classes so workers can handle rail rage attacks.

First Great Western (FGW) are using experts from British Airways to give workers training in "conflict avoidance".

The company said staff needed the training after a number of incidents involving passengers.

A company spokesman said drunken travellers are the main problem.

'Unruly behaviour'

"Alcohol has certainly contributed to incidents of unruly behaviour among passengers," he said.

"Problems with ticketless passengers far outweigh any bad behaviour caused by passengers being frustrated by poor service.

"Indeed, our customer satisfaction levels have risen of late."

The training is thought to be costing Great Western around 100,000 a year.

New staff are being offered the classes as well as around 1,000 staff who have direct contact with the public.

The lessons are being given at First Great Western's training centres in London, Bristol, Plymouth and Reading.

Meanwhile, the firm has blamed infrastructure failures and delays in the building of new trains for what it admitted was the "unacceptable" quality of service in evidence submitted to an inquiry by a passenger watchdog.

Speed restrictions

On the final day on Monday of a lengthy inquiry by the Rail Passengers Committee, which has toured the region gathering views of passengers, the company submitted a 10-page document outlining reasons for its poor performance.

Some journey times are up to 10% longer than in the 1980s, the regional development agency has claimed.

The document blamed speed restrictions imposed after the Hatfield crash and a two-year delay in the delivery and new high-speed trains for producing an "unacceptable" quality of services for passengers.

The company, which carries around 18.5 million passengers a year, operates services from London to south-west England, the Midlands and Wales.

See also:

30 Jan 02 | England
Navy dockyard rewires trains
16 Jan 02 | England
Labour veteran's train upset
27 Sep 01 | England
'Appalling year' on West trains
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