Wellington Scoop

Conductor stops train after passenger faces racist abuse from teenager

Report from RNZ
A Wellington train conductor has been hailed as a hero for stopping a train after a racist taunt between passengers last night. The train had left the Wellington Railway station for Upper Hutt but came to a halt after the conductor overheard a passenger racially abusing another for speaking Hindi on his cellphone.

One of the passengers said the incident unfolded at around 8pm.

“A young girl, about 16, was yelling at a passenger and saying ‘go back to your country, don’t speak that language here’,” she told Checkpoint. “She said she was getting off at the next stop, and the conductor said ‘no you can get off at this one, I’m not putting up with that nonsense'”

The girl said “Well, I’m not getting off the train then,” so the conductor called the police.

“A lot of us had turned around and were watching the situation unfold.”

The passenger said nobody on the train was upset that the conductor stopped the train to remove the girl. “Everyone was over the moon she decided to do that and stand up to that behaviour. We were just in awe that she had the courage to say ‘this isn’t on and I’m not going to put up with it, no matter who you are and whether you’re a paying customer or not – you can get off the train and find your own way home.’

The passengers waited around 20 minutes.

She said the victim of the racial abuse was very startled at first but seemed more or less unphased. “If it was me, I’d be quite outraged .”

The conductor, JJ Phillips, said she was alerted to the incident by another passenger. “Just as I was walking through getting the tickets, one passenger raised a concern with me, so I went to where this passenger was. She was a teenage girl and she was hurling abuse at some passengers, and the passengers who were receiving the abuse, I called them out and I asked them what had happened.”

The conductor said she took the teenage girl and another passenger who had tried to intervene outside the train and asked them what was happening.

“The Indian passenger was just minding his own business, talking to his friend in their own language. It appeared this teenage girl had an issue with him talking in his own language and she was being racist and abusive towards him.”

The conductor said she wasn’t having any of that on her train.

“We don’t put up with language like that, of any kind. We carry passengers to and from A to B, and we want our passengers to get there in a safe manner.”

JJ said she tried talking to the girl but her manner didn’t change.

“I thought to myself, ‘no, I’m not carrying you on this train. You’re off.'”

When she refused to leave, JJ told her she was calling the cops and the girl shrugged and said “fine”.

JJ said she had no reservations about stopping the train. “When it comes to something like this, not at all. After what we’ve been through, in March, there’s still tender feelings out there.”

“All I could do was just apologise to the other passengers. We are here as one people in this country, we should all share things equally. We’re all living in this country for a purpose, treat every person with the same respect that you’d like to be treated with – with total respect, no matter what race you are.”


  1. Cr Daran Ponter, 9. August 2019, 23:20

    Bang on! Congratulations to the train conductor. I support any Metlink train, ferry or bus staff member who calls out this sort of behaviour.

  2. Kara Lipski, 10. August 2019, 10:25

    Racism is not acceptable in any form. I hope the 16 year old learns from this. Well done to the train passenger and conductor who quickly became UPSTANDERS.

  3. Russel C., 10. August 2019, 13:38

    Australia has carriages that are designated ‘quiet’ with bans on cell phones, or music from electronic devices etc. It would be nice to have some quiet carriages on the Wellington system too as listening to people talk on their cell-phones in whatever language can be annoying after awhile.

  4. Jane C, 10. August 2019, 15:51

    Instead of gently and kindly educating the teenager, they have by their Christchurch kneejerk over-reaction – kicking her off the train at night- hardened her anger & us v them misguided beliefs. You can’t fight intolerance with intolerance.

  5. Kara Lipski, 11. August 2019, 13:25

    For those who get annoyed listening to others speaking in languages, just remember that English isn’t the only language on this planet. English is not the easiest language to learn especially if it is learnt as an adult. So if you hear someone speaking on the phone or directly to another person, accept they might already be multi-lingual.

  6. Alan Wickens, 11. August 2019, 18:41

    Russel C. I have a notion that Transdev were going to introduce ‘quiet’ carriages and thought what a great idea and relief from cellphone yappers. But come them getting the contract that idea evaporated. However this an aside to to the main story. Hooray JJ. You’re the tops.

  7. Peter Kerr, 11. August 2019, 22:36

    Dear Jane C., Please elaborate on the phrase “Christchurch kneejerk over-reaction” (sic). I’m a native of the Holy City and am mystified by what you could possibly mean by it.

  8. Dave B, 12. August 2019, 13:54

    Great for this teenager to be shown that her toxic attitude was not only unacceptable to the authorities who had her removed from the train, but also to the wider public who witnessed this pathetic behavior. Seeing everyone united in support of the action taken against her, singles-out her as the problem, not the foreign-speaking person whom she was seeking to isolate. I hope the significance of this serves to modify her childish arrogance.

  9. Fascism, 12. August 2019, 15:28

    Agree Russel, getting quiet train carriages to protect people from rude, obnoxious and loud cellphone users is a progressive step in the right direction, as loud noise is damaging and an environmental pollutant. But kicking a teenager off a train at night is an example of how an intolerant and PC society will get it wrong.

  10. Sharon, 19. August 2019, 0:16

    Yes, the young girl was wrong but the driver was irresponsible if it was night time putting the girl off the train. If anything happened to the girl the train driver would be responsible. It would have been better to call the police and let them handle it and take the girl home.
    I agree that there should be quiet carriages where phone conversations can’t take place.

  11. CC, 19. August 2019, 10:45

    Sharon – ‘… JJ told her she was calling the cops and the girl shrugged and said “fine”.’ Were the Police not called?