A passenger on board a train at the Asnieres station, just outside Paris, called a friend who worked at the French animal defence association when he spotted the bird in distress.
“I advised him to call the firemen,” said Stéphane Lamart, head of the animal defence association.
“But in the end I went to the station myself when I realised [rail operator] SNCF weren’t willing to interrupt traffic to allow the emergency services to so their job.”
SNCF agreed to cut power for half an hour to allow the bird to be rescued, but not before Lamart threatened to take action.
“I said to the firemen that if they weren’t going to do it, I would throw some cardboard boxes and blankets on the line and go and pick the swan up,” he said.
“I threatened to sue SNCF for cruelty to animals. There was no way I was going to leave this animal to get cut in two by a train.”
Two hours after the swan was first seen injured on the tracks, it was rescued and taken to a vet by the firemen.
“It only took five minutes,” said Lamart.
A spokesperson for the company in charge of the train station, SNCF Transilien, said: “We had to find out what the impact would be before we took action.
“The fire service came before peak time to save the animal... Traffic only had to be interrupted on platform two. Only a few trains were cancelled.”
Once the swan if fully recovered, the animal defence association has planned to find it a new home at the Chateau de Versailles.