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News 18th June

18 June 2021

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An anonymous train driver reported his May 31st experience on our patch.

"A recent incident at Wetherden takes the first prize for irresponsibility.

It was the late May Bank Holiday Monday and it was a lovely evening. I was descending the gradient from Haughley towards Elmswell doing 71 or 72mph, allowing the gradient to enable the train to reach line speed of 75mph by the time we reach the bottom of the dip. In the distance, at that point, there is a foot crossing. I could see someone start to cross so I gave him or her a long blast on the horn. Instead of hurrying from right to left and away, the individual stopped and appeared to stoop and do something on the track. I had no choice but to apply the emergency brake as I was not sure what was about to unfold, if indeed he/she was even going to leave the running line. Well he (as it turned out) did move away and the superb brakes brought me to a stand right by the crossing. Those sort of things all seem to happen in an instant. I had been concentrating on his movements but as the train came to an abrupt halt I noticed a gaggle of people on the other side, from where he had appeared. A group of five adults and a large number of young children all under 5 or 6, it seemed to me. One child was atop the shoulders of another man who was standing the wrong side of the railings and almost on the opposite running line. They were clearly out for a walk but making it far more ‘interesting’ by planting coins on the rails - I noticed a few coins as I came to a stand! Leaving aside the example this gives to impressionable toddlers, the attitude of the adults was one of “why have you stopped?”.

I asked the signaller to stop other train movements whilst I tried to get rid of this family outing from the operational railway. I was displeased to say the least and made my feelings known. The response was interesting. Without looking to see if anything else was coming towards us, the other man with the child on his shoulders, sauntered across the tracks and kicked the coins into the ballast. He turned to me and said in a rather aggressive manner “What coins?”.

You simply cannot legislate for some people’s behaviour………."