Kids left stranded at railway station
By CHRIS LYNCHchrisl@gladstoneobserver.com.au
EVERY parent dreads their children being left on their own to fend for themselves.
But that's what happened to Trudy Willie, who was trapped on a train while her three children, aged 4, 7 and 10 watched in tears from the platform of the Gladstone railway station.
On Monday morning her 12-year-old daughter was catching a south-bound tilt train, and was understandably a little nervous.
"It was her first time on a train and she asked me to come on board and help her with her hand luggage,'' Ms Willie said yesterday.
"I'd dropped a friend down once before and I knew the train left pretty quickly.
"So I jumped on, stored her bag and quickly kissed her. It was then the drama started to unfold.
"I went to go and the door closed, I pushed the button to open it but it wouldn't.''
Ms Willie said she "panicked'' and ran to a stewardess to ask her to stop the train.
The employee then summoned a fellow worker who told her it was their policy not to stop. "I said it was unacceptable and that I had three young children on the platform screaming for their mother.
"He told me I would have to calm down and take a seat until Miriam Vale.'
During the confusion a Queensland Rail employee, who believed Trudy was meant to be on board, tried to console the children by telling them "mummy's just going for a holiday''.
She said her heart sank as she watched the children and they looked on helplessly as the train departed.
Ms Willie then began frantically ringing people as reception dropped in and out on her mobile phone, eventually locating her mother. Her shocked mother Kaye then drove to pick the children up as quickly as possible, before embarking on a 100 kilometre round trip to Miriam Vale to collect Ms Willie.
"It's lucky she got me because I was literally walking out the door,'' Kaye said.
Ms Willie questioned the working order and adequateness of a public address system designed to alert people the train was leaving.
A spokesperson for Queensland Rail said yesterday on-board and platform announcements had been made and a whistle blown to signal the train's departure.
The spokesperson said on-board staff were not made aware until the train had gone too far to stop, and that QR staff had supervised the children.
"The driver made an unscheduled stop at the next station which was Miriam Vale, where the woman departed the train.
For safety reasons QR does not allow passengers to leave trains at locations other than station platforms.