09:00AM, Wednesday 25 January 2017
A mother has said it is an ‘absolute miracle’ her daughter wasn’t killed after being pulled into the path of a freight train.
Jane Holmes, of Church Lane, Ruscombe, was speaking after the findings of an investigation into the incident were published.
The mum-of-one was at Twyford Station last year waiting to go to London to see the musical Billy Elliot when 15-year-old Kitty’s wheelchair was caught in the wagon’s slipstream, dragging her towards the edge of the platform.
Fortunately she only had ‘glancing contacts’ with the train, with the final one pushing her clear.
She had been waiting behind the yellow safety line with her mother with the brakes of her wheelchair engaged at about 10.50am on April 7 when the non-stop service passed through.
Jane, who said she initially thought someone had snatched Kitty when she first realised she was no longer next to her, said: “It’s been confirmed the brakes were on the wheelchair and I was behind the yellow line.
“Yet it still happened and when you consider the weight of her (Kitty) and the weight of the wheelchair, which is just slightly shy of 100kg, it’s quite some slipstream that’s created.
“I had a huge bag full of things with me at the time and that acted as a sort of buffer – but everything inside it was just pulverised.
“There are so many other ‘ifs’ but we were just very lucky.
“It’s an absolute miracle she wasn’t killed.”
As assessment by the Rail Accident Investigation Branch (RAIB) released on Thursday found the locomotive’s slipstream and ‘ambient wind’, ‘generated an aerodynamic force which was able to overcome the brakes on the wheelchair’.
Following this, the RAIB recommended the Rail Delivery Group does more to educate the public about the danger of slipstream and that Great Western Railway should ‘ensure that warnings of passing trains provided to station users are timely and effective’.
Chief Inspector of Rail Accidents Simon French said: “This distressing accident has highlighted the fact that even slow moving trains can cause significant airflows on station platforms.
“We have recommended that the rail industry takes steps to promote a greater public awareness of the potential hazards from train slipstreams.
“We have also made a number of recommendations relating to the way that the industry manages aerodynamic risk in stations.”
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