Tkh 4015 rescues injured cylist

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Chrzanow built 0-6-0T Tkh 4015 Karel at Bitton Station on the Avon Valley Railway. Photo Interlok.

(Click image to see photos and drawings of Tkh class locomotives on the Interlok website.)

I have a soft spot for the Tkh 0-6-0Ts, partly because I first met the class during an unofficial schoolboy grice inside a securely guarded industrial facility in northern Poland the 1960s, and partly because the engines bear a superficial resemblance to the ex Southern Railway USA tanks, a couple of which I managed to nab at Guildford shed before the demise of steam on the Southern.

Rynek Kolejowy is Poland’s very own railway industry journal. It is focused firmly on the future and rarely looks back on the past and more rarely still mentions anything to do with steam. So when I saw the Rynek Kolejowy headline Polski parowoz ratuje zycie (Polish steam locomotive saves a life) above an article with an embedded You Tube video of 4015 running round her train at Bitton station on the Avon Valley Railway I simply had to know more.

After a Google search, I discovered that the BBC’s Bristol news room had covered the story. Under the headline Hurt cyclist rescued by Avon Valley Railway steam train the BBC’s story explained how two cyclists had crashed on the cycle path alongside the railway line. One cyclist had gone flying over the handlebars of his bicycle and was thought to have injured his back. According to a paramedic, We immobilised him on a stretcher, but could not get our ambulance to him. We thought about requesting the air ambulance but there was nowhere for it to land. However, there were two members of the Avon Valley Railway on scene and they called the engine driver to back up the steam train from Bitton so we could put the patient on board and take him to the ambulance. There was nothing in the BBC story about the provenance of the rescue train locomotive. In fact the BBC article rather downplayed the incident. The cyclist, thought to be aged in his 40s, was taken to Royal United Hospital in Bath for x-rays, but his condition was not thought to be serious. Not so Rynek Kolejowy who milked the incident for the very last drop of sensation. Według doniesien prasowych, polski Tkh uratował mu zycie. (According to press reports the Polish Tkh saved the man’s life.)

So what really happened? Under the headline Steam Crew Stage Lineside Rescue a sober and detailed account of the incident appears in RailwayPeople.com. The crew of a steam train helped speed an injured cyclist to hospital after he crashed on a line side track. The remote path is inaccessible to ambulances and has nowhere nearby suitable to land an air ambulance. The cyclist, Mike Mesham, 43, was thought to have sustained head and spinal injuries and was evacuated by steam train after paramedics rushed to the scene at the Avon Valley Railway. Ken Hill, the driver of a Chrzanow 0-6-0T 4015 – Karel, spotted the cyclist lying motionless on the path that runs beside the railway. Mr Hill promptly alerted the crew and called the railway’s control centre at Bitton… And the cyclist’s condition – near death, or just scrapes and bruises? Mr Mesham sustained a broken arm.

Checking different accounts of the same news story can be quite educational!

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