Ticket inspectors on trains can lead a dangerous life. A recent attack in Lisbon highlights the growing problem of violence on public transport.
“In nine years of service, I have lost count of the amount of times I have been attacked,” reveals Carlos Reis, an inspector for CP (Comboios de Portugal). Last week he was attacked yet again and a colleague of his sustained a broken arm when they tried to detain a passenger caught without a valid ticket.
Reis relates the latest incident that occurred shortly after the train had left Parede Station. “Rui Cardoso (his colleague) noticed that a man was travelling with a L123 pass, invalid for train travel.” Reis asked the man to produce some identification papers. He became very angry and eventually produced a certificate of Portuguese residence, passed by the Cape Verde Embassy – but it too was invalid.
As they pulled into Paço de Arcos station, the suspect tried to escape, but the two inspectors restrained him. “We tried to convince him to make it easy for himself until the police arrived. It was then that a second man jumped from another stationary train pulling into the station and approached us. At first, he appeared to be calming the offender down, but they were talking in Creole so we didn’t understand what they were saying.”
Taking advantage of a momentary distraction on the part of the inspectors, the two suspects managed to jump over a nearby ticket barrier and escape. When Reis caught up with them, he noticed one of them holding a very large stone in his hands. “I injured my left arm during the ensuing struggle trying to remove the stone from his hand, but Cardoso, my assistant, was hit hard on the elbow and fractured his arm. It was terrifying.” Police are now hunting for the two men.