A THUG threatened to punch a terrified mum in the head in front of her three-year-old boy on the Metro.
The woman was on the train with her son and a friend late at night, when she was shouted at and racially abused by the fellow passenger.
CCTV images have now been released of a man police hope to identify and speak to in connection with the incident.
It happened when the woman and son were targeted by a man in the same carriage as they travelled between Pallion and South Hylton stations.
The man began shouting and making racially offensive comments towards them, leaving the pair feeling threatened and distressed.
Pc Gavin Alcorn said: “After continuing his abusive tirade, the man threatened to punch the mother in the head when she challenged him and asked him to stop.”
Officers believe the man boarded the train at Stadium of Light and got off at South Hylton.
Pc Alcorn added: “This was a nasty and unprovoked verbal assault against a mother and child.
“I urge anyone who recognises the man pictured in the CCTV images to contact us.
“Everyone has the right to go about their business without the fear of this type of abuse.
“British Transport Police and the wider rail industry will not tolerate any form of racism on the rail network, and we will do everything in our power to locate those responsible.”
Richard McClean, managing director of Metro Operator DB Regio, said: “This is an atrocious act of wrongdoing. We will simply not tolerate any offence or assault of any nature against our passengers.
“Personal attacks such as this are totally unacceptable and I urge anyone with information to come forward.
“By releasing CCTV images, we hope this will encourage witnesses to speak to police and help catch the person responsible.”
The incident happened at about 11.25pm on Saturday, June 25.
Anyone with information or who recognises the man pictured is asked to contact British Transport Police on 0800 405 040, quoting reference B4/NEA of 25/07/2011.
Information can also be passed to Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.