A puppy spotted on the tracks of a busy London railway has been rescued by a trainee who was in the middle of a train driving lesson.
Stefan Hug, from east London, only started learning to drive a train in January but was forced to stop a Southern service from Beckenham Junction to London Bridge on Wednesday morning after seeing the small black puppy running alongside the train.
The 32-year-old, who was accompanied by his driving instructor Kevin Timmins, said dogs are a rare sight on the railway track but the skills he learned in the classroom “kicked in”.
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“I think because you talk about it so many times the procedure just kicks in and you just know you need to bring the train to a stand, take a deep breath and think logically the next thing to do,” Mr Hug said.
“Of course, that was contacting the signaller to get permission and authorisation to do anything before we step outside and try to retrieve the puppy.”
The trainee and his teacher collected the uninjured female puppy safely from the tracks, bringing her on to a nearby platform and feeding her ham. Authorities are now searching for her owner.
The incident happened at around 7.50am near South Bermondsey – the penultimate stop on the train’s journey.
Mr Timmins praised Mr Hug for his composure. “Stefan alerted me that he’d seen a puppy running next to the front of the train. He immediately put it into the correct braking procedure to bring the train to a stand.
“It was really good to see Stefan do those procedures correctly, and I’m really proud of him.”
Mr Timmins hopes that the incident serves as a reminder to dog owners to keep their pets safe on railway platforms.
“It just reinforces the point of making sure if people have dogs on the platforms, they should be on the leash all the time and to keep pets near to you,” he said. “It’s so easy for dogs to run off and run on the rails and it’s very hard to get them back. It does put a lot of people in danger and it’s a big operation to get them off the tracks.
“Hopefully, this is a good wake-up call to keep all of your animals close to you on leashes whilst you’re on railway property.”