On Tuesday 29 September, I was taking an empty 12 coach train from Brighton to Littlehampton. I was approaching Portslade station at a reduced speed due to following the 05:17 Brighton to Southampton service. Just before I reached Olive Road Bridge, a dark object appeared in the middle of the track, which turned out to be a Greyhound. I applied the emergency brakes, but even from as little as 15mph, 600 tonnes of train does not stop in a short distance. I struck the dog at 7mph with rather a sickening thud. Before the train had shuddered to a halt, I was calling Lancing signal box to report the incident. After informing them that I struck the dog, I informed them that I was going to check to see if the Greyhound had survived the impact. I climbed down from the cab with a torch and knelt down at the front of the train to have a look. I could see Bluebell (as she is now called) on her left side just behind the front wheels of the train.There was no movement. I whistled to her several times before she lifted her head to look and then lay still again. I got back into the cab to relay the state of the dog.They asked me if she had a collar, which I said it had even though I couldn't see. I requested that the power to the conductor rail be turned off so that I could retrieve the dog.They agrees and informed me that a mobile operations manager was en route to assist. I had already given the signaller my mobile number so they could keep in contact with me whilst I was outside the train.Whilst waiting for the power to be turned off, all I could do was talk to Bluebell and try to stop her from trying to get up and wander off.. She lifted her head up several times during this period and I could see that there was a nasty injury to the side of her face and blood was coagulating in her eye.
Once the power had been turned off, I was able to crawl under the train to try and extricate Bluebell. I had to turn her over on to her seemingly uninjured side to try to get her out.This was when I discovered that her front left shoulder had lost a large area of skin. Due to the confined space, I almost had to drag her to a position where I could lift her out from under the train. Once she was out she was able to stand. I tried to lift her into the cab, but she was too big to lift as the doorway is virtually head height. I put her down again whilst I opened the passenger doors. At this point she tried to limp away. I caught up with her again and managed to get her into the front passenger compartment of the train. It was then a case of getting the power back on and getting Bluebell to Worthing station so she could be looked after until the RSPCA arrived.
Tony the Train Driver
We have been fostering Bluebell during her recovery, which has been a steady process, not without its complications. I am pleased to say she is doing remarkably well now, racing around the field just like her old self. Her lameness from her injuries has gone and her appetite is brilliant - although I don't think that it ever went throughout all her treatment.
Physically Bluebell's scars have improved and her hair is growing back nicely from where she was shaved. Mentally she is a very happy dog. She wags her tail continuously when she follows me around the house. She is a very content dog who stretches to the size of a house when she is sleeping. Her story is a tale of unique bravery and compassion by those who have supported her throughout.
Brighton Retired Greyhound Rescue
Bluebell is an incredibly brave fouryear-old female greyhound who came to us early one morning after being hit by two trains. She was immediately picked up by the kind train driver who had witnessed the accident first-hand. He contacted the RSPCA who brought Bluebell directly to the hospital.
Bluebell was very shocked and collapsed on arrival. She needed intensive care including fluid therapy, a unit of blood and a morphine drip to keep her comfortable. Amazingly Bluebell didn't have any fractures, but she had sustained massive bruising and serious wounds to her face and shoulder. It was very touch-and-go in the early stages and we were all worried that she may not make it through the initial shock stage.
Bluebell received twenty-four-hour nursing care, with one nurse dedicated to her at all times. She responded well and by day three she was strong enough to undergo an anaesthetic so we could close her wounds.The procedure went well, but needed a further unit of blood in the process having lost so much through extensive bruising.
Bluebell has not looked back and continues to make excellent progress. She is an amazing dog to have survived such a dramatic trauma and has been so brave and loving throughout her stay in hospital. She made an impression on all the team and we are so pleased that her story ended so well.
Special thanks to the charities and private individuals who have made generous donations for Bluebell's treatment
Brighton Retired Greyhound Trust
Jenny Bunting (BRGT)
Retired Greyhound Trust
Sussex Pet Rescue
Mr T Coulstock(train driver)
Ms S Biggerstaff
Ms A Clements
Mr A Clenell
Mrs S P Costa
A C Cox
Dorset Gardens Methodist Church
Mrs M Forrest
Miss B A Longley
Mrs S A Manville
Mrs B Morris
Miss D Moulding