A mother has spoken of her moment of despair last week when her three-year-old was locked outside the train on a station platform.
On Thursday (February 5) Shelley Bubb was travelling on the 1.30pm Southern Railway train from Horsham when the incident happened.
Arriving at Ifield Station with her two children, she carried JJ, aged three, to safety on the platform and stepped back onto the train to fetch the buggy carrying one-year-old Carter.
In that time she said the guard, who was in the carriage next to her, had blown the whistle and the doors were locked.
Shelley said: “I thought we were leaving and going without him.
“I didn’t know what he was going to do.
“In my head he was going to run after the train - ‘there is no one on the platform, where’s my mum?’
“My little boy was screaming.”
Crawley resident Shelley is a regular passenger on the trains having journeyed between Crawley and Horsham for work before becoming a full time mum.
Last week she took decisive action and pulled the emergency lever to release the doors.
As a result the train never left the station, but both mother and son were left distraught.
Shelley said: “He (the guard) was standing on the platform and got back on the train. We were the only people who got off the train.
“You see a child on the platform, why are you driving off, leaving a child on his own on the platform. I cannot get out of my head what might have happened.
“The guard had the cheek to ask me said ‘why did you do it?’.
“I explained I had pulled the lever to open the doors.
“I said to the guard ‘why did you blow your whistle’, but regardless of that he should never have left a child on the platform.
“My son was in such a state. He was screaming, thinking I was leaving him on his own. He is still upset now.
“It doesn’t bear thinking what would of happened had it been the other way around and the baby was left alone on the train.”
The Office of Railway Regulation’s Rail Safety Publication 3 of 2007 sets out the requirements of staff when preparing a train to leave a station.
Principle 1.2, covering trains moving from a station platform, states: “The train crew should be aware of all relevant information for the safe movement of the train and should be satisfied that the train is safe to move.
“Station work should be complete and any passengers embarking or disembarking the train should have done so.”
A Southern Railway spokesman said: “We were extremely concerned to hear of this incident and we are in the process of carrying out a full investigation.
“We won’t know the results of this by the time the paper goes to print, however, as part of the investigation, we have been in contact with the passenger and assured her that we are looking onto this as a matter of urgency.”
He confirmed the investigation has involved speaking to the guard concerned and viewing CCTV footage from the station. It is hoped they will find an amicable solution.