Salisbury train crash: ‘detailed and forensic’ investigation begins

Rail investigators are urgently trying to establish the cause of a collision between two trains that led to at least 13 people needing hospital treatment.

Firefighters and other emergency workers evacuated 100 people from the trains in Salisbury, Wiltshire, after the accident on Sunday night. One of the train drivers had to be cut free from his cab.

Salisbury district hospital said on Monday 13 casualties attended with four admitted. One has been discharged and the remaining three are stable. It is understood another passenger was taken to a hospital in Southampton.

The incident is believed to have begun when the rear carriage of a Great Western Railway train between Portsmouth Harbour and Bristol Temple Meads struck an object on its approach to Salisbury station and came off the rails.

The derailment apparently knocked out all signalling in the area and shortly afterwards a South Western Railway train from London Waterloo to Honiton collided with the first service. The driver of this train was injured.

There was heavy rain and flash floods in Wiltshire on Sunday but Martin Frobisher, the group safety and engineering director, technical authority, at Network Rail, said on Monday it was not yet clear what caused the accident.

He told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “We’re hugely relieved that nobody was seriously injured, but the passengers must have had a really scary experience, and we’re very sorry for that.

“We’re obviously starting now a very detailed and forensic investigation into what happened. The Rail Accident Investigation Branch are on site and they’re incredibly thorough in the work that they do.

“And that’ll help us learn from this, and that’s why these events are very rare, because we follow it up very, very carefully, and make sure that we do everything possible to prevent it for the future.”

Frobisher said it was “far too early to speculate” what caused the incident, adding that there was “a lot of contradictory information” in the early stages of an investigation.

The incident began at about 6.46pm at Fisherton tunnel, not far from the city centre. People on the Honiton train had been getting ready to get off at Salisbury because of flooding further west.

Dimitri Popa, 17, was on the first train carriage travelling from London Waterloo. “It all happened very fast. There was a big crash, then I saw flames," hy het gesê. “The carriage was 45 degrees to the right. We didn’t know where we were or anything, we were very shocked.”

Morgan Harris, 20, who was travelling on the same train, was thrown from his seat. “It was all going along normally then all of a sudden there was a massive bang and all of the lights went out," hy het gesê.

“There [was] sparks and flames from where we had come off the track. There was a load of ash coming from outside. Our train was on its side. I was thrown out of my seat and I banged around the table.”

A casualty centre was set up at St Mark’s church in Salisbury with locals providing food, hot drinks and blankets for those who were affected. Train services in the area have been halted.

Grant Shapps, die vervoersekretaris, said investigations into the crash would be undertaken in order to help prevent similar “serious” incidents in future.

Die Transport Salaried Staffs Association general secretary, Manuel Cortes, gesê: “We will have to await further details, but this is a very sobering reminder about why safety on our railways is always paramount.”

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