Police are hunting a group of three Leeds United fans who subjected a Bradford woman to a tirade of racist abuse on a busy train.

And officers have urged that a man who acted as a Good Samaritan by standing up to the group and offering to escort the 35-year-old woman away from the group, comes forward to help their investigation.

The incident happened on the 1.07pm train from Leeds to Manchester Victoria last Saturday and only ended 20 minutes later when the woman got off the train at Bradford.

The men sat near the woman, and although the conversation started off light-heartedly, it soon regressed into what police called “a tirade of racist abuse”.

The men are believed to have been travelling to watch the FA Cup third round match between Rochdale and Leeds, which Leeds lost 2-0.

British Transport Police officers are now scouring CCTV to try to identify the racists, and have issued an appeal for any other passengers who witnessed the abuse to come forward.

PC Jo Kellett said: “The victim, a 35-year-old woman from Bradford, boarded the 1.07pm Leeds to Manchester Victoria service at Leeds. Three men also boarded the train at Leeds and sat in the adjacent seat across the aisle from her. The group then struck up a light-hearted conversation with the victim, mentioning that they were Leeds United fans travelling to Rochdale.

“The conversation became aggressive and the group unleashed a tirade of racial abuse at the victim leaving her extremely frightened and upset.

“The train was very busy at the time of the incident and we believe a number of people might have witnessed the assault. If you were on board the service at the time, we urge you to come forward as you may have information crucial to our investigation.”

Officers are following a number of lines of inquiry, including looking at CCTV opportunities from on board the train and at the station.

PC Kellett said: “We take all reports of racist behaviour very seriously, and will not tolerate it on the rail network.”

Anyone with information is asked to contact British Transport Police on 0800 405040 quoting background reference NEA/B9 of 8/1/2014. Information can also be passed to Crimestoppers on 0800 555111.