A disabled pensioner has described how her dog’s lead became trapped in a train’s doors, dragging him along the platform and to his death inside a tunnel.
Retired nurse Rose Barry boarded a train in Borehamwood, Hertfordshire, with eight-year-old Shih Tzu Jonty at 2.00pm on Friday.
The 75-year-old, who has back problems, claims the doors closed on his lead as she was still on the platform struggling to load her luggage and walker onto the St Pancras-bound service without any assistance.
She said she was screaming for help as Jonty was dragged along the platform, but still no one came to her aid.
After a heartbreaking eight hours waiting for news, Thameslink officials told Rose that Jonty’s dead body had been found in the tunnel.
Rose is now demanding more assistance on the platform and on trains for disabled passengers, to avoid similar tragedies.
She said: ‘What happened was terrible, and every night when I close my eyes, Jonty’s image comes back to me.
‘I have been travelling for 20 years and did everything correctly when I boarded the train on Friday, it’s just my disability means I sometimes need a little extra help.’
She said she could ‘see Jonty dangling from the carriage into the gap between the platform and the rails.’
‘But I realised even if the driver had looked out of the window he wouldn’t have seen him, or me, because of the curve in the tracks.
‘I rushed back to the station buildings clearly distressed, shouting about how Jonty had been caught up in the train, but when I explained what had happened to a female member of staff she was slow to react.
‘There was another man there in uniform, who didn’t react at all.
‘I later found out the controllers can slow down or stop the train if alerted but clearly they couldn’t have seen me – despite the CCTV cameras.
‘Perhaps if it had been a child who had got caught, things would have been different.’
Dog lover Rose got Jonty in June last year after volunteering to foster him as his original owner was having health issues.
The retiree, who travels on the train service at least once a week, is now calling for a change in policy to provide more assistance for disabled passengers.
After the tragedy, Network Rail and Thameslink returned Jonty’s body to Rose, who was able to bury her treasured companion in her garden.
She said: ‘We loved going for walks – everybody loved him, he was such a friendly and loving pet.
‘I am so angry my dearest little dog, my companion, was caught up in this.
‘But I am even angrier this has happened in spite of all the money which has been spent on Borehamwood station.
‘Jonty needn’t have died if there had been assistance and easier access for me, and I don’t want his death to be in vain.’
A Thameslink spokesperson said: ‘We are very sorry for the distress caused to Ms Barry by this deeply upsetting incident.
‘We launched an immediate investigation and have informed the Rail Accident Investigation Branch.’