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Mother saves child from falling through floor of moving train

Safety fears after child nearly fell through dismantled floor onto train wheels.

An investigation has been launched after a mother and her young son discovered the floor of a train toilet compartment was missing.

After opening the door she caught hold of the boy to stop him falling on to the exposed train wheels, according to the Rail Accident Investigation Branch (RAIB).

They were both reportedly left shocked and the child suffered minor bruising, investigators said.

The incident occurred on the South Devon Railway (SDR) steam heritage line between Staverton and Buckfastleigh on June 22 as the train was travelling at around 20 mph.

Engineers had dismantled the floor to access the carriage’s braking system for repairs.

Staff had placed a notice on the compartment door and attempted to secure it to prevent it being opened, but “this had not been effective”, the RAIB said.

Over 100,000 people visit SDR each year.

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(South Devon Railway/PA)

A spokesman for the attraction said: “The South Devon Railway takes this incident extremely seriously in which safety on a moving train was badly compromised and that could have resulted in serious injury to a female passenger and her young son.

“We regret that this incident took place and wish to apologise to the lady and family involved for the trauma which they suffered.”

He continued: “Something clearly went wrong with our safety control and hazard monitoring systems as evidenced by the incident having taken place.

“It simply should not have happened.

“As a result, we took steps to check all of our coaches and, subject to RAIB and ORR (Office of Rail and Road) guidance, plan to implement an enhanced and rigorous inspection and monitoring regime for all passenger vehicles for the future.”

The RAIB investigation will examine the events leading up to the incident and the railway’s safety management system.

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