Case of boy who fell unconscious on 'ridiciously packed' Sunderland train is raised in Parliament

The case of a boy who fell unconscious on an overcrowded train has been raised in Parliament.

Thursday, 9th December 2021, 2:05 pm
Updated Thursday, 9th December 2021, 2:06 pm

Harry Ainslie’s ordeal led to his mother, Susan Ainslie, having to pull the emergency stop lever in order for Harry to receive first-aid from his dad, Ian Ainslie, before the family abandoned the crowded Northern service at Sunderland and returned to Hartlepool.

The incident resulted in the family writing to local MPs calling for action.

Easington MP Grahame Morris, who has complained himself about recent overcrowded services along the Newcastle-Middlesbrough line, said in the House of Commons on Wednesday: “I will read out a letter that I’ve received, relaying the experience of a constituent. It’s from the mother of Harry, an 11-year-old boy.”

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Ian and Susan Ainslie with son Harry.

Citing the letter, Mr Morris then stated: “Harry was standing squashed with his dad. He started to go pale and felt sick. He suddenly collapsed, went limp, eyes rolled back and he passed out.

"We pulled the emergency stop button. After about a minute, he came round, but was weak, limp and only just responding. There was no space for him to lie down.”

The family, who intended to travel to Newcastle, said the situation arose after the already busy train allowed more passengers to board at Seaham and Horden - a situation which Susan said resulted in her “ being unable to get to Harry after because there were so many people”.

Referring back to the letter, Mr Morris added: “The train was so crammed there was no space for me to even get to him. No space for the conductor to get to him to see if he needed medical help. The windows were closed. It was hot, airless, and people were packed to absolute capacity.

Easington MP, Grahame Morris, has called on the Government to take action to improve the rail network between Horden and Seaham. Picture by FRANK REID

"What does it take for the train companies to understand that packing trains full to above safe capacity is a fatality waiting to happen?”

Last Saturday’s ordeal also resulted in Susan’s mother-in-law, Diane, having a panic attack.

Schoolteacher Susan said earlier this week: “This was a frightening experience. If someone had a heart attack there would be no way to administer first aid because there was no space.

"It’s a tragedy waiting to happen."

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps.

Calling for action and for transport secretary Grant Shapps to visit the Durham Coast Line, Mr Morris added: “Seaham and Horden in my constituency are served by one train an hour, normally consisting of two carriages.

"For my constituents who are seeking to attend a hospital appointment, a university or college class, getting to work, or simply meeting friends, the reliability of the train has a considerable impact on employment prospects or educational success.

"If there were any truth in the levelling-up rhetoric, I would not be on my feet here tonight, pressing the Government for additional transport options, more resources and more frequent services.”

Responding to the incident, Kerry Peters, regional director at rail operator Northern, said earlier this week: "I’m sorry for Mrs Ainslie's experience on one of our services over the weekend.

"We always operate in full adherence with safety regulations and whilst some services may be busy there’s unfortunately limited options to reduce the number of passengers boarding at various points.”

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