A furious passenger sparked misery on a busy Fylde rail line after he launched an attack on a staff member – because he was angry he had missed his train.
The 8.20am service from Blackpool South to Colne had to be partially cancelled after police were called to an incident on the platform as the train was setting off from the resort.
It is believed a passenger flew into a rage after arriving on the platform just as the train was pulling away.
The driver stopped the train after hearing a noise from the platform and as another member of staff on board the train looked out the window to see what was happening, he was hit in the head by the man, who then fled.
The victim was taken to hospital for treatment for a swollen eye and has since been discharged.
But following the attack, rail bosses had to cancel the service, which is popular with London-bound commuters, sparking chaos for commuters on the busy line.
And police have today launched a manhunt to track down the train rage attacker.
Mark Nelson, a coach with Fylde rugby club, was among passengers waiting at Ansdell and Fairhaven station as he made his way to a meeting at the Rugby Football Union headquarters in Twickenham.
He said: “The train was cancelled without any consideration for people waiting for the train later on the line at St Annes, Lytham, and Kirkham and Wesham.
“When I rang up Northern Rail, I was told that the train had been cancelled due to ‘disruptive behaviour’, which must be something serious if it is happening at that time of the morning on a train.
“Luckily I rang up a colleague at Fylde rugby club, who was kind enough to give me a lift so that I could get my connection at Preston, but others won’t have been so lucky.
“It doesn’t show much consideration to passengers.”
Northern Rail, which today condemned the attack, said the train was cancelled between Blackpool South and Preston, where a reduced service took passengers as far as Burnley Central.
The 10.23am train, from Colne to Blackpool South was also affected, instead starting at Burnley Central.
A Northern Rail spokeman said: “We have a zero tolerance approach to abuse on our network, whether that is towards our staff or our passengers.
“Each Northern Rail employee has the right to work in a safe environment and every passenger is entitled to travel without fear for their safety.
“We work closely with the British Transport Police to deter such incidents and whilst they are rare, we take them very seriously.”
The company said where customers have had to make other travel arrangements, they should contact customer relations to enquire about a possible refund of their ticket.
British Transport Police confirmed it was investigating the attack and appealed for information. No arrests had been made last night.
A spokesman said: “Our officers were called at around 8.30am on Thursday to reports of an assault on a member of rail staff at Blackpool South station.
“Officers attended Preston Station and spoke to the victim, who has been taken to hospital with minor injuries.
“We are speaking to witnesses, and enquiries are ongoing.”
The hourly Northern Rail service from Blackpool South to Colne is hugely popular with commuters who catch a connecting train to London from Preston.
It is not the first time the service has been hit by problems of this kind. In December, a train to Colne was delayed and others cancelled after the driver was assaulted at Blackpool South station.