Beds, Herts & Bucks

'Trapped lead' dog dragged to its death at Elstree station

Thameslink train Image copyright PA
Image caption The dog's lead became trapped in the Thameslink train doors

A train driver was unaware a dog's lead was trapped in the doors moments before it was dragged to its death, an investigation has found.

The dog's disabled owner Rose Barry "hammered on the doors" to alert staff about the incident in September.

A report by the Rail Accident Investigation Branch (RAIB) said the driver had not devoted enough time to a final safety check before departure.

The dog - a Shih Tzu called Jonty - was later found dead in a station tunnel.

The RAIB report said retired nurse Ms Barry, 75, had struggled to board the Thameslink service at Elstree and Borehamwood station with a walking frame and luggage.

Image copyright PA
Image caption The driver had not seen on his cab CCTV that the dog's lead was trapped, the report said

When the doors closed, her hand became trapped but she managed to free herself, leaving the lead.

Thameslink has driver-only operated (DOO) trains, despite a two-year dispute with the RMT union over potential safety fears of removing guards.

Investigators found the driver had "no recollection of seeing the passenger or her dog in the monitors", despite recorded CCTV images showing Ms Barry was "clearly visible, standing in close proximity to the train".

The RAIB highlighted that the driver carried out his final safety check before departure in no more than 1.1 seconds - compared to the 13.5 seconds recommended by the Rail Safety and Standards Board (RSSB).

It found the design of the train's system was unable to detect "thin items" trapped in the doors.

'Deeply upsetting incident'

The RAIB made a safety recommendation to Govia Thameslink Railway (GTR) relating to the time drivers spend carrying out safety checks.

Ms Barry, who has back problems, said at the time of the accident: "He should have been able to see me standing there, half on the train.

"Obviously he didn't because the doors shut and he left immediately. There was no hesitation.

"I hammered the doors [and] yelled at everybody."

GTR head of safety Mark Whitley said: "This was a deeply upsetting incident and we are very sorry for the distress caused to the dog's owner.

"We launched our own investigation immediately and have introduced new guidance to drivers about the optimum time needed before departing, in line with the branch's recommendations."

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