Rail bosses investigate as kids left stranded on Bedford train without their dad

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Rail bosses are investigating why a train was allowed to leave Bedford station with two tiny children on board and their frantic parent left behind on the platform.

Rail bosses are investigating why a train was allowed to leave Bedford station with two tiny children on board and their frantic parent left behind on the platform.

Dad of three Michael Whelan lifted two-year-old Cooper and Elana, aged four, into the Thameslink carriage and then, with the help of a station steward, prepared to load on the buggy and 10-month-old Fraser.

“Suddenly the doors closed and the train shot off. I could see my son howling for me through the glass...It was every parent’s worst nightmare,” he said.

The steward ran to a special access phone to speak to guards on the Sussex-bound train, warning them there were two unaccompanied ‘railway children’ on board.

“To be fair, the steward and the guards were brilliant. Within a couple of minutes they called to say they’d found my children and they were taking them to the front of the train where they would look after them,” said Michael.

“They told me they were fine and they’d given them some chocolate and crisps to cheer them up.”

The guards agreed to get off with the youngsters at the next stop, Flitwick, and look after them until their dad arrived to collect them.

“I had to wait for the next train, so it must have been half an hour before I arrived. It felt like forever,” said Michael, who had arranged the trip as a treat because the Thomas the Tank engine mad tots had never ridden on a train before.

He finally found Cooper and Elana sitting with chocolatey smiles on the platform bench, flanked by guards.

Both, none the worse for their unscheduled adventure, were keen to get on a train again to take them towards their Harrold home.

“I didn’t dare tell my wife about it until we were all safely back,” said Michael.

He has now contacted rail union RMT, whose members have been striking on and off for the past 20 months over Southern Rail’s plans to withdraw guards and introduce driver-only trains.

Michael said: “This incident really made me realise how important it is to have guards. I dread to think what could have happened to my children if they had been left alone on that train.”

For the sake of other families, he also wants to know why the train pulled away when he and a steward were clearly about to board.

The incident happened on Saturday on the 2.54pm train from Bedford to Three Bridges .

A Thameslink spokesman said: “We are very sorry that the family was separated and appreciate that this was a worrying experience for them, at least initially.

“Our staff were able to ensure the children were looked after while they were on board and re-unite the family at the next station. We are carrying out an investigation into the incident.”

An RMT union spokesman said:”RMT is looking into the facts of this case but we welcome the support of the father involved for the union’s campaign for a safe and properly staffed railway both now and into the future.”