Published 26th June 2013
There are several large charter train companies operating day excursions in the UK and Merseyside based Compass Railtours are now in their 10th year of such operations.
They promote budget priced special trains to many UK destinations from starting points across all regions. On May 31, they ran a charter train from Skipton to Canterbury and Dover via Denton in Manchester.
The train’s Guard was changed at Milton Keynes to be told that the train was in good order with no faults but that a passenger had been lost in the Manchester area. This regular passenger turned out to be a Springer Spaniel who had been brought by its owner on the train. The dog was a regular on the train having made around 10 previous trips without incident and was thought to have joined at Skipton.
When the train called at Denton station, which normally only has one train a week, the owner held the dog up to the window for a better view and it sprang from the owner, through the open window and ran off. By the time the owner could alert the on-train stewards, the train was on the move and the very upset owner had to wait until the next station stop at Stockport.
Because Denton only has the one train a week, run to keep the line open, the dog owner had to get a taxi from Stockport to Denton to look for the dog. Happily, he soon found the dog still exploring the platform. It was taken to a vet and was soon established that the only in jury was a slightly cut tail but nothing serious.
UK Railtours, another major charter train promoter based in Welwyn told rail.co.uk that several decades ago, the proprietor had hired an Intercity 125 High Speed Train to run from London to Fishguard Harbour for a day out. A passenger brought his dog and on the way back, the dog seemed to be a little distressed and was assumed to be in need of a comfort stop.
As the train was not due to stop for some time, the dog was taken to a toilet compartment on the train and dangled over the toilet to do what was thought to be required. But it did not manage so much as a drip!
So what was the advice given in 1953, Coronation Year so far as dogs on trains were concerned? The Railway Executive published a staff booklet called ‘Customers Can Complain – Cattle Can’t’. This contains a lot of information for front line staff about how to handle various animals while in transit on trains.
The advice was that different animals needed different arrangements and that the general welfare and humane treatment of animals was the top priority. The book looks at conveying horses, ponies, asses, mules, sheep, pigs and cattle in varying types of wagon or carriage.
Instructions cover feeding and providing drinking water for the various animals as well as when to milk a cow in transit if it suffered from swollen udders! This involved tying up the animal’s legs for protection.
Live poultry brought its own problems and this is discussed in detail including if they were to be stored overnight at a station, then make sure rats and foxes could not get to them! Staff were also reminded that crates containing live animals should not be thrown from wagons onto the platform!
Dogs were usually carried on passenger trains in the Guard’s Van and had to be muzzled and wear a ‘stout collar’. They should also be tied up in the van. There were special instructions for short nosed dogs to make sure they did not choke and toy dogs had to be carried in a box or hamper – well ventilated.
Dogs should be watered every few hours but not fed more than once every 24 hours the booklet says. When at stations, dogs should not be left lying on cold stone or concrete floors or kept in a draft. They had to be kept in sight of staff and passengers so they could enjoy the comfort of passers-by! On no account should a dog be tied to the Guard’s handbrake as it would be liable to walk round and round possibly strangling itself.
Goats were treated as sheep but with the warning that they were liable to eat anything they could reach – including labels on tethered animals. The final picture shows staff the correct way to carry a dog.
Written by Phil Marsh