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RAIL RAGE BOUNCERS; Madonna's minders hired for station staff.

Byline: JACK MATHIESON EXCLUSIVE

AN upsurge in incidents of rail rage has led to train bosses hiring a security firm at one of Scotland's busiest stations.

Rock Steady staff have been hired to protect workers at Edinburgh Waverley.

The firm was drafted in last month for Madonna's wedding at Skibo Castle.

It also provides security at Rangers and Kilmarnock home soccer matches.

A spokesman for east-coast train operator GNER said: "We have brought in one of their people in the afternoon and evening over the busy New Year period.

"This will supplement staff at the station just in case there are any problems. It's a temporary move during what is a particularly busy time.

"It's a difficult time. It's busy anyway at this time of year but, if you add the problems with cancellations, it's just a prudent move. The arrangement has worked well."

But one passenger was angry to find himself under the scrutiny of a Rock Steady worker as he queued for a ticket.

He said: "It seemed totally unnecessary. She looked very bored.

"The busiest she got was when she started reading rail timetables for something to do.

"There was certainly very little sign of civil unrest. I think it's an insult to passengers who have had to put up with so much over the last few weeks."

GNER said there have been two physical assaults and "a lot" of verbal abuse since October's Hatfield rail disaster triggered a disruptive pounds 10million track-repair programme.

Rock Steady managing director Mark Hamilton said: "They wanted us to patrol the ticket-office area and to help out in the case of problems with drunk and abusive people.

"We are also advising people coming off trains where to go.

"It's a short-term assignment and there have been no serious problems."

The network-wide track-repair programme is likely to mean major delays and cancellations until Easter.

But miles of cracked line on the West-Coast Main Line between London and Glasgow will have to be replaced a second time to accommodate Virgin's new fleet of high-speed tilting trains.

A Railtrack spokesman said: "It's not ideal but some of the work to upgrade the West Coast Main Line is not scheduled for another year.

"If we didn't replace it, the speed restrictions would have to remain and the timetable would be shot to pieces for another year."

However, ScotRail said yesterday that it planned to resume four services per hour on the Glasgow-to-Edinburgh line from next Wednesday.
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Publication:Daily Record (Glasgow, Scotland)
Date:Jan 5, 2001
Words:411
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