RAIL bosses have hailed new security measures after the number of assaults on train staff nearly halved in the space of four years.

Physical attacks on guards and conductors across the Northern Rail network, which includes the Clitheroe to Manchester and Colne to Blackpool South lines, has dropped from 186 in 2009 to 95 in 2013.

Train chiefs have praised partnership work with British Transport Police, more CCTV cameras and the introduction of their own rail response team for the improvements.

One of the last serious incidents in East Lancashire was in November 2012 when a conductor was pushed on to a platform while attempting to confront a rowdy passenger on a Colne-bound train.

Extra security cameras have been pledged at Blackburn as part of the proposed £780,000 revamp for the station, and improved CCTV was provided at Darwen as part of the £400,000 overhaul there in 2012.

Gary Stewart, Northern’s safety 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 frontline teams on how to deal with potentially threatening situations and provides them with the tools to diffuse them calmly.”

Across its network, the operator has installed another 23 cameras over the past 12 months, bringing the number of stations covered to 195.

Mr Stewart added: “Any assault on a member of our staff is unacceptable and every one 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.”