Woman pushed on to railway line after asking men to stop smoking

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The Independent Online

Two men pushed a woman off a railway station platform yesterday, two days after she had asked them to stop smoking at the same station.

Linda Buchanan, 58, is lucky to be alive according to police, who said she narrowly avoided the live rail which would have electrocuted her.

She suffered a broken wrist and bruises to her legs and had to be taken to hospital after being shoved on to the tracks at Farningham Road station, in Dartford, Kent, as she waited for a train to London early yesterday morning. She had to be helped off the railway by other commuters. The two men, believed to be in their twenties, were chased by an off-duty police officer but managed to escape.

Speaking afterwards, Mrs Buchanan said: "I am lucky to be alive. It could have been a lot worse than it has been."

British Transport Police officers were studying CCTV footage last night. They said the woman approached the two men on Monday morning and asked them to stop smoking, which is banned on platforms. Yesterday, as she walked past the same men, one of them pushed her off the platform. The attack came two minutes before the 7.12am train to London Victoria was due to arrive.

The incident was witnessed by other commuters including Audrey Hescombe, who said: "The platform was packed, as it always is at that time. I saw them smoking but didn't say anything. The woman was braver than me and simply asked them to put out their cigarettes. They started hurling abuse at her and pushed her on to the track."

Andy Hedenshaw, 34, a commuter, said at the station yesterday: "The poor woman just did what millions of people wish they had the nerve to do. To be attacked and pushed off the platform is horrifying. She could have been hit by the train and the police would be looking for two murderers."