Kent

Kent train derailed after hitting herd of cows

Photo of detailed train by Peter Sherwood Image copyright Peter Sherwood
Image caption The line between Ashford and Ramsgate via Canterbury West will be closed until Wednesday

A passenger train has been derailed after hitting cows on a line in Kent.

One carriage came off the rails when the herd was struck by the train, according to operator Southeastern. No passengers were injured.

Sixty-five passengers were helped to safety and Network Rail has shut the line. A spokesman said it was thought five cows had been killed.

Network Rail said it had received a report of a stray cow on the line about an hour before the derailment.

That report was investigated but nothing was found.

It has also emerged that after the collision, the train driver jumped out of the cab and ran down the track to halt an approaching train because he had realised his radio had stopped working.

Southeastern said the driver then contacted the signaller through the radio of the second train to switch off the power to the lines.

The collision is being investigated by British Transport Police (BTP) and rail accident investigators have been told.

Image copyright Jonathan Calder
Image caption Passenger Jonathan Calder tweeted a photo showing the carriage next to his tilting

BTP said the incident happened at about 21:45 BST on Sunday and involved an eight-coach train which was travelling from London Charing Cross to Ramsgate.

Emergency crews initially thought two carriages had been derailed.

Police said they could not comment on who owned the cows while the investigation was ongoing.

During the incident, passenger Jonathan Calder tweeted: "Everyone is fine but this train is going nowhere. Front coach derailed."

He later confirmed he had been able to get off the train and was "now having a cup of tea in a village hall".

Network Rail said the derailment happened in the Godmersham area, between Wye and Chilham.

Passengers were taken to nearby Godmersham village hall while alternative travel arrangements were made.

Engineers remained at the scene on Monday assessing the damage caused.

Track damaged

Southeastern's managing director David Statham said the track, culverts and embankments on the railway had been damaged.

He said investigations would look into whether there had been earlier sightings of cattle on the line.

The line between Ashford and Ramsgate via Canterbury West will remain closed until Wednesday.

Buses have replaced trains on that stretch of line, and passengers have been advised to travel from Canterbury East to join a high speed service at Faversham or Ashford at no extra cost.

"We do need to make sure that Network Rail are doing all they can to keep line-side fencing secure and also that local farmers do all they can to make sure the railway is secure and livestock don't end up on the track," said Mr Statham.

Network Rail said fences in the location were inspected three weeks ago, and found to be in good condition.

Image copyright Twitter/Southeastern

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