A THREE year old boy ran along one of Scotland’s busiest railway lines for half a mile after getting off a train without his parents.
The toddler jumped off the Glasgow to Edinburgh train in Wester Hailes yesterday and was left behind on the platform.
Shocked witnesses saw the boy jump on to the track and try to run after the train as it sped into the capital.
Tragedy was only avoided thanks to a sharp-eyed driver coming in the opposite direction who spotted the distressed tot running after the train.
Martin McManus slammed on the emergency brake and put his own life in potential danger to get out of the train and rescue the boy.
Three off-duty police officers were on the same train and they managed to reunite the boy with his parents an hour later.
The double track carries scores of trains a day including intercity expresses travelling in excess of 60mph on that stretch.
Mr McManus, from Rosyth, Fife, told today (Fri) how he spotted the boy running in the opposite direction by the side of Edinburgh-bound track.
The former Royal Navy aircraft engineer said: “He was very lucky. I was very shocked seeing this small child.
“I saw the wee lad running along the track crying so I stopped my train and made sure it was safe.
“I went out and picked him up and brought him back in.
“He was looking for his mummy and was just asking if his mummy was on the train.”
Mr McManus added: “He was halfway between Kingsknowe and Wester Hailes station when I saw him.
“People on the train were trying to work out what had happened.
I haven’t a clue how he got off the train or ended up down there.”
The driver said that as soon as he stopped his train he put a signalling “block” on the line to make the situation as safe as possible.
Illustrating the potential danger of the line, he added: “After it was taken off a train blasted past at 60mph.”
Reacting to the praise he has since received on Facebook, including claims he is a “hero”, Mr McManus said: “I’m quite surprised by the reaction, I was only doing my job. Passengers were getting off and thanking me for saving the wee boy.
“It could have been really tragic so I was lucky I spotted him but it’s all just part of my job.”
The boy and his family were on the 13:18 Glasgow Central to Edinburgh train. Mr McManus was driving the 14.26 Edinburgh to Glasgow Central train. It is though the boy was on the tracks for about 10 minutes before he was rescued.
Off-duty police officers on the train took care of the boy and arranged with on duty colleagues to collect him at Kirknewton, West Lothian, a few stops down the line. He was then taken by car to Wester Hailes police station.
In the meantime, the boy’s parents, realising he had disappeared, got off the train at Kingsknowe and hitched a ride with a passing motorist back to Wester Hailes. It is thought the couple had no idea at that point that their son had chased after them along the railway track.
The lucky lad was reunited with his parents at about 3.30pm, about an hour after going missing.
Sharing a photo of the heroic driver online, Bonnie Nicholson wrote: “Here is the amazing train driver who saved a little boy’s life today when he noticed the little one on the tracks on the outskirts of Edinburgh and managed to stop the train on time.
“I was so traumatised I forgot to ask his name but what a hero.”
Shannon Ross responded: “So happy to hear this I was on the train the little boy was on when he ran off the train before his mother could get off when the train went off without him.
“Not been able to stop thinking about it so relieved he’s safe.”
And Susan Broadfoot said: “Why on earth was the child there? Thank goodness the train driver noticed him. This could have had a tragic ending.”
A ScotRail Alliance spokeswoman said: “Our staff are trained to look out for vulnerable passengers, and on this occasion our driver took swift action to ensure the child’s safety.”
A BTP spokesman confirmed that the little boy was left unharmed and an inquiry has been launched by the Office of Rail Regulations (ORR).
He added: “British Transport Police can confirm a three-year-old boy was found by a driver along the tracks.
“He was later taken to Wester Hailes and reunited with his family.”