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Gorseinon mum's horror as daughter is left alone at dark railway station

By South Wales Evening Post  |  Posted: February 19, 2013

Stephanie Richards with her nine-year-old daughter Eve

Comments (20)

A MUM-OF-TWO has spoken of her horror and fear as she became stuck on a train — while her nine-year-old was left on a dark platform alone.

Stephanie Richards and daughter Eve made their way back from a family day out in Cardiff on the Arriva Trains 18.04 service to Gowerton.

But when the time came to depart and make their way home for a night in with a Chinese takeaway, they were forced to use different doors to exit the train — one of which did not work.

But Miss Richards claims the conductor refused to take the train back to Gowerton, meaning she was forced to continue on to Llanelli, leaving her daughter stranded.

"We'd been to Cardiff to see the Madagascar show," said Miss Richards.

"It was a nice family day out, we'd done a little bit of shopping as well with my friend and her 10-year-old son. We got the train from Cardiff to Gowerton, and my daughter saw a friend sitting a few rows behind us, so went to talk to them. As we were approaching Gowerton, I said to my daughter to come to me so we could get off together."

But a food trolley was blocking the aisle, cutting her off from her daughter.

"I asked if the man could move the trolley so she could come through, and he said no, and told us we'd have to use different exits," claimed Miss Richards, of Glan yr Afon, Bryngwyn Village, Gorseinon.

"We used different exits, and as we were pressing the buttons to get off at our exit, they wouldn't open. We then squeezed past the trolley to try the other doors, when the train started moving."

Miss Richards said it was at this time she started going frantic, realising Eve was on the platform alone.

"It's such a dark area where the station is in Gowerton, I think I went into a panic," she said.

"I did not know what to do, I was thinking of the danger of a 9-year-old girl in darkness in the middle of nowhere near a train line, strangers who could have abducted her.

"I asked the guy using the trolley to go and stop the train, or to see the conductor, but he told me it wasn't his job, and that he just served food."

Miss Richards made her own way to the conductor, but in the meantime had pulled the emergency brakes on the train. She added: "I eventually got an answer from the conductor and she asked me why I'd pulled the brake."

Miss Richards explained her predicament to the train conductor, who went on to tell her that it was not a legitimate reason to have pulled the emergency brake.

"She proceeded down the train carriage to re-set it, and the train started moving again," she added.

"I said that I had to go back to Gowerton because my nine-year-old child was on her own, and she then told me she couldn't, and that she'd have to explain to her boss why the emergency brake was pulled."

Luckily for Miss Richards, the story had a happy ending.

Speaking of her relief at being reunited with Eve, she said: "Someone who was on the train who knows us got off at Gowerton and realised Eve was on her own, and looked after her.

"They had my friend's contact number and rang her to let us know."

Miss Richards thanked Jo and Anthony Inkin for taking care of Eve during the time it took for them to return from Llanelli.

"Jo's husband Anthony came to pick us up too, because none of us had enough money to get a taxi back from Llanelli," she said.

"It would have cost us more than it did to get from Gowerton to Cardiff."

She said the event had left its mark on Eve who, after the incident, developed a migraine, adding: "We were due to go home and have a nice evening in to continue the day, with a Chinese takeaway, but she was traumatised, to be honest."

A spokeswoman for Arriva Trains Wales, said: "We apologise for any inconvenience or upset caused to Miss Richards and her daughter. Our customer services department has received her complaint, and is carrying out a full investigation in line with our complaints procedure and will respond to Miss Richards directly."

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  • InfoNetUK  |  February 24 2013, 5:17PM

    From what I've read about this and other incidents, it seems that situations where train doors close before people have finished getting on or off a train, and problems with train doors in general, are quite common. Maybe the issue needs to be looked at with a view to finding a solution before something worse happens. Has the Health and Safety Executive been informed of this incident, which has been discussed at length @ http://tinyurl.com/bk7jujh

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  • BobDavies2  |  February 21 2013, 8:48PM

    The train driver has to ensure passengers are clear of the doors before moving off, this would be done by visual means. Steph on realising her daughter was still on the train should have made it obvious to the driver, that someone hadn't got off, as the doors should only be closed when all passengers have safely left the train, this would be, (I imagine) a basic procedure regarding the guards safety procedure. Reversing the train would have been a dangerous manoeuvre, that would have resulted in a serious disciplinary situation.

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  • callandh  |  February 21 2013, 4:30PM

    I think they covered all these issues in the movie Speed

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  • Spideyjonesy  |  February 21 2013, 10:48AM

    for goodness sake people, you cannot just slam a train into reverse and start motoring backwards up the tracks. are you all in the real world?

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  • Lunkhed  |  February 20 2013, 10:06PM

    So someone is too fat to walk past a trolley and get off a train. It's obviously the train conductors fault for not jumping in the drivers seat and driving the train the wrong way down the line. What a stupid conductor!

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  • seh777  |  February 20 2013, 10:14AM

    My daughter was fortunate and it did have a good ending. By standers at gowerton could see me and my friend frantically trying to open the doors. There was no call bell so I had no other option but to pull break. We were only a few yards from the platform. And unlike THE MOTORWAY trains communicate with control room and I'm sure if the conductor was more helpful she could have done this to put other trains on hold. Seconds this would have taken. We are just thankful that people who were travelling on train who departed at gowerton knew my daughter and could see the events unravelling and took care of her. I dread to think of the consequences. And yes the trolley was an extreme hazard in the aisle for fire safety as well but I think the at seat catering gentleman was more of a hazard. The conductor even said herself that if he had run to her as soon as I alerted him the train could have been stopped, instead his priority was serving food and drink. Numerous people have contacted me following this article and said themselves that they have experienced the same situation at gowerton with the doors failing to open but fortunately it was adults stranded not a child.

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  • seh777  |  February 20 2013, 10:03AM

    It was just very fortunate there were people who got off at gowerton who knew my daughter and knew I was stranded on the train due to the failings of the train staff and the doors. My daughter is traumatised by the events and keeps saying 'what 'if'. Also in response to local observer. Trains communicate with control room and I'm sure if the conductor was more helpful she could have contacted them to explain situation and put other trains on hold. Trains are a lot diff to travelling on the motorway, we can not communicate with drivers and tell them to stop!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • AlisonT  |  February 20 2013, 8:00AM

    If this story is accurate then I feel the Mum had every right to pull the emergency cord. Surely any decent, sensible person could see that it was an emergency situation. A young child's life was at risk. Gowerton station is very small, dark and quite isolated near a very busy road. How terrified that poor mother must have been and just imagine how scared that child was to be left alone near a dangerous train track. Pure good luck meant that there were two kind people who could help. Arriva Trains must comment on this terrible story because the outcome could have been much more serious and heartbreaking. I understand that it would be difficult to reverse a train but the situation should never have occurred in the first place and should never be allowed to happen again. Where is your duty of care to your passengers? Shame on you!

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  • LocalObserver  |  February 19 2013, 7:44PM

    Trains cannot simply reverse back to a station, in the same way that coaches cannot reverse back on the motorway.

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  • loopylops  |  February 19 2013, 3:03PM

    Spidey Jonsey - If you read the story correctly, her Daughter was only a couple of rows behind them talking to a friend, but became separated by the food trolley who refused to move,and therefore the child could not get back to her mother. I think you will find it is totally the fault of Arriva and their staff!! The member of staff could see the child was trying to get to her mother for the next stop, what kind of person would do that and refuse to move??!! And also to Beany12345 - If my 9 year old child was stranded at Gowerton rail station on their own on a Saturday night, I too would have pulled the emergency pull cord to stop the train and DEMAND that the yrain go back regardless of any rule book! I would not care if the trains were delayed for hours or days because of it. My chil's safety would be paramount. I would have got off the train and stood in front of it to stop it going any further, they would soon get permission from Network Rail Control to reverse the train. What if it was your child stranded at the station??.... I too like Philosoraptor would have done anything in my power to get my child back safely...

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