Warning over threat to pushchairs from train slipstreams

Parents have been told to hold on to pushchairs while non-stopping trains pass through stations after a wheelchair user was caught in the slipstream of a freight train.

A disabled teenage girl was injured when her wheelchair hit a freight train travelling at around 45mph at Twyford station in Berkshire on April 7 last year.

She and her mother were waiting to catch a train and had the wheelchair 2.4 metres from the platform edge, parallel to the track and with the brakes applied.

But the freight train's slipstream pulled the wheelchair towards the tracks and it made "multiple glancing contacts with the wagons" of the train, according to a report by the Rail Accident Investigation Branch (RAIB).

The final collision pushed the wheelchair clear of the train and the girl was left with a minor injury to her foot.

A member of staff from the ticket office and a passenger witnessed the accident and helped the girl.

Her mother had left to buy a drink and did not see the collision.

The RAIB recommended that the Rail Delivery Group - which represents train operators and Network Rail - should inform passengers of the "potential hazards from train slipstreams" and the need to "apply brakes and keep hold of wheelchairs and pushchairs when non-stopping trains pass through stations".

It also urged the Rail Safety and Standards Board to investigate measures to improve the safety of wheelchair and pushchair users at stations.

Investigators found that the driver of the train was unaware of what happened and his actions had "no bearing" on the incident.

The train was carrying stone products from Somerset quarries to London for use in construction projects.

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