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Artificial limbs to sex toys - the mad things people are leaving on Merseyrail trains; Seen my glass eye? We go behind the scenes at train operator's lost property department.

Byline: Ben Turner-LE

Today the ECHO can reveal the crazy things people are leaving on Merseyrail trains - and it's enough to make you blush.

Staff atMerseyrailrevealed the secrets of its lost property department - an Aladdin's Cave of bizarre unclaimed possessions.

Based atWater Streetit handles more than 1,000 items found each year on Merseyrail trains.

And some of the unclaimed goods are a real eye-opener.

Mike Johnson, station manager forJames Streetand Lime Street, said: "I remember once a few years ago a pouch with a glass eye was found, I think it was on a train at Ainsdale.

"We never found out if it was a replacement eye or a joke one."

The slick operation sees things handed in on trains held at the nearest station for 48 hours.

And if unclaimed in that time they are forwarded to the central lost property team manned for the last 13 years by the unflappable Julie Musker.

And Julie, 56 and fromWest Derby, gave a fascinating insight into the bizarre items that make their way to her - some are enough to make her glasses steam up.

"We've had a few saucy items handed in. The sort of things that you buy in Ann Summers or from a certain shop by Moorfields. No they weren't claimed back.

"The staff don't tell you and you have no clue as to what you are opening. From one day to the next you don't know what you are going to find."

But sexy purchases to keep your love life on track are not the only memorable items that have made their way to Julie.

"We have had artificial limbs more than once, one was a false hand I remember. And we have had quite a lot of false teeth."

And what are the most common left items?

"It used to be mobiles, keys - actually a Mini driver has been in this morning, walking sticks, and we have loads of glasses at the moment. And backpacks, lots of backpacks."

Station manager Mike said: "Kids packed lunches too. But we do tend to get them back to them as we get the school or parents ringing.

"You also get students with their end of year work. They must be concentrating that much and are that worried about it that they leave it on the train. Memory sticks too."

The lost property department on average gets at least couple of items every day.

And just don't mention the rain to Julie.

"Yes the worst time is when it is raining as we're swamped with umbrellas."

Although the department can be a lot of fun, Mike stresses they are all fully aware of the importance and responsibility that comes with being the guardians of people's possessions.

"We are always careful not to dismiss things as tat. We found an old rag doll but it was something that the child's mum had been handed down by her mother.

"You can't replace that and the memories attached to it."

Julie said: "I've had people on the phone in tears when I've told them we have found their possessions. It's a nice part of the job when we can tell them that."

Some train operating companies charge people to get their stuff back from lost property but not Merseyrail. It's completely free - in fact they don't make a penny from it.

If unclaimed after three months:

So with prosthetic limbs, dentures, saucy purchases and even a glass eye among the items left behind - why do people keep forgetting to take things with them when they get off the train?

"It's stress, a lot of panic getting to work or you might be watching your kids or whatever. Nothing surprises me any more," Julie said.

Julie, who has been with Merseyrail for more than three decades, is leaving the lost property team to go part time and work at Merseyrail's station shops but she doesn't think she will ever really leave lost property.

"I suspect I'll still get some phone calls," she says with a smile.

We'd be lost without her.


Credit: Peter Byrne/PA Wire

Brollies are often left on Merseyrail trains

Credit: Colin Lane/Liverpool Echo

Credit: Colin Lane/Liverpool Echo

Julie Musker examines the latest items left behind
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Publication:Crosby Herald (Liverpool, England)
Date:Aug 4, 2019
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