A gay couple were hospitalised after being viciously beaten up on a train in a homophobic attack by a group of thugs and as they made their way home after a Valentine's Day meal.

Zbynek Zatloukal, 26 and his boyfriend Phil Poole, 35, were beaten by five men on a train from Reading to London, as Poole slept on his boyfriend's shoulder.

After the gang started spouting homophobic slurs at the couple, Poole asked the gang to leave them alone.

He was then awoken by a punch to the face shortly after his partner was temporarily knocked out.

"I can't really remember much about what happened, because I was in such shock when I woke up. I managed to get up and stumble down the carriageway but then they followed me," said Poole to the Evening Standard.

A group of passengers alerted staff to the attack at Ealing, where the gang ran off before they could be caught.

Zatloukal was stretchered off the train and taken to Ealing Hospital, with fears that he had a broken eye socket from the attack.

"I'm not a violent person at all. I've never even been punched, so I didn't even know how to defend myself," said Poole.

"I'm still a bit jumpy and I think it could be a while before I get back on a train. I was just sleeping on his shoulder – it wasn't like I was making out with him, I can understand if people dislike couples kissing on the train."

They couple had missed their stop on the Great Western Railway train, and had meant to get off at to go to Maidenhead, where they live.

The British Transport Police said they are investigating the attack.

Homophobic attacks during July, August and September 2016 have increased 147% compared to the same period in 2015, said LGBT anti-violence charity Galop.

Concerns are rife that the spike in the hate crime has risen since the Brexit vote.