ABOVE: The North Coast XPT train at Casino Railway Station. The Northern Star
ABOVE: The North Coast XPT train at Casino Railway Station. The Northern Star Thinkstock

Knife fight erupts on train with no security in sight

WITH nowhere to escape and no security back-up, railway workers de-escalated an impending knife fight on a North Coast XPT train which terminated at Casino at 6.40pm on Wednesday night.

A middle-aged female train worker talked down a large, fair-haired man from Tweed Heads. According to witnesses the man was "acting strange" and "threatened a group of men with a large knife".

Police were called to Casino Railway Station, where the train terminated, and searched the man. Finding nothing, the man was given a move-on direction.

But unfortunately, it's all in a day's work for rail workers, with violent drug-related incidents escalating in severity in recent years, said Bob Hayden, Secretary of the Rail, Tram and Bus Union NSW.

For our region's train hub, Casino, also dubbed the "ice hub of the Northern Rivers" by Richmond Local Area Command Crime Manager Detective Inspector Cameron Lindsay, it's the perfect storm.

The union's Mr Hayden said he feared for local train workers.

"Being in an enclosed space, without any real protection, and a violent person is a situation no one wants to be in, but unfortunately our workers find themselves in that situation quite regularly," he said.

"Drugs such as ice are a real worry for transport workers. Not knowing what a violent person is capable of is very scary, particularly when you're trapped in an enclosed space together."

A recent survey of transport workers showed that 44% of all workers have been assaulted while at work. That rises to 80% for guards.

A childcare worker from nearby Rainbow Station Early Education Centre said while no anti-social behaviour had spilled over into the centre, staff do take precautions and conduct daily needle sweeps.

"There is no doubt that the ice problem in Casino is affecting local families," she said.

In July, grandma Marita Luckman was violently mugged at the railway station.

Although extra lighting has been installed at the station there are no CCTV cameras.

Runaway train from nowhere

Victims of assault on public transport (railway premises in the Richmond Valley government area):

April 2011 to March 2012: no incidents

April 2012 to March 2013: no incidents

April 2013 to March 2014: 4.4*

April 2014 to March 2015: 13.2*

* Rates per 100,000 population

SOURCE: Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research

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