A woman who claims she was sexually assaulted on a tram says she no longer feels safe using the Metrolink service. The woman, in her 30s, claims she was riding the Ashton-under-Lyne line when the incident happened at around 5.40pm on Monday, April 25.
She says she was on her way home from work when she noticed an intoxicated man standing nearby, who then came and sat beside her and asked for a ‘fist bump’. When she said no, he punched her in the arm, she claims.
The woman claims the man then stood up and staggered towards the end of the “packed” tram before returning to sit next to her again, before touching her breast and grabbing her thigh twice.
When the woman got off the tram near Ashton town centre, she was visibly upset, it is claimed. A passenger helped escort her to the driver to tell them what had happened.
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The incident has since been reported to the police. A 46-year-old man was arrested on suspicion of sexual assault but has since been released on bail pending further inquiries, a spokesman for GMP said.
speaking to the manchester evening news, the woman says she no longer feels safe using the Metrolink service. “It was absolutely horrible,” she added.
“I’ve not felt safe on the tram since and I’ve been looking for a seat near the driver or near the emergency buttons. (The man) was walking around with a full pint glass and a can. At first, he seemed quite friendly and he was chatting to people. When I finally got off the tram no one said anything or did anything.
“I wasn’t near any of the buttons to push for the driver. When I got off, I was shaken up and upset to be honest. A passer-by walked with me to the tram driver. A group of kids said the tram driver kicked him off and he snuck back on.
“The way this made me feel was horrible. I just wanted to get home to my family after a long day at work. I didn’t expect that a complete stranger wouldn’t leave me alone just because he had too much to drink. No one around even gave it a second thought and it’s made me uneasy and shaken about getting back on the tram for work.”
In a statement, TfGM’s Head of Metrolink, Danny Vaughan, said: “We take all reports of sexual assault extremely seriously and will do whatever we can to assist Greater Manchester Police with their inquiries.
“People will understandably have concerns about what has been reported but I want to reassure everyone that we are continuing to do all we can to ensure people are safe when travelling.
“We work closely with the police and other agencies as part of the Travelsafe Partnership to tackle crime and antisocial behavior through targeted operations and also have a number of systems in place across the network including more than 2000 CCTV cameras; help points on all stops and trams and a 24/7 control room monitoring the network.
“For incidents on both bus and tram networks, passengers can also report incidents to a live Greater Manchester Police call handler, from their smartphone, using the LiveChat service or by calling 101 – or 999 in an emergency.”
Anyone with information, particularly who was on board the tram, should contact the GMP Transport Unit on 0161 856 5324 quoting incident 2339 04/25/22.
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George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.