Salisbury train crash: Driver suffers 'life-changing injuries'

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Investigators stood by the trains at the scene of the crash on MondayImage source, PA Media
Image caption,
The trains collided at Fisherton Tunnel, located immediately east of Salisbury Station

The driver of one of two trains involved in a crash has suffered injuries believed to be "life-changing", police have said.

Passengers described being thrown from their seats when the Great Western and South Western Railway services crashed in Salisbury on Sunday evening.

Thirteen people were taken to hospital with minor injures, while a passenger said a three-week-old baby was rescued.

The injured driver remains in hospital, along with one other person.

Rail services continue to be disrupted, with more cancellations going ahead in the next few days.

The crash involved the Great Western Railway (GWR) service from Southampton to Cardiff and the South Western Railway (SWR) train running from London to Honiton, Devon, British Transport Police (BTP) said.

It happened as the trains entered the Fisherton Tunnel, close to London Road, at 18:46 GMT as many families were out trick or treating nearby.

Image source, PA Media

The trains were travelling in the same direction on different tracks but collided at a Y-shaped junction approaching the tunnel, with one hitting the side of the other causing it to derail, BTP said.

A carriage was initially thought to have derailed after hitting something, and the second train then crashed into it, but Supt Lisa Garrett, of BTP, told a press conference "there was nothing to suggest" the train had struck an object.

She said of the 92 passengers on board the two trains, 30 people attended a casualty centre set up in a nearby church, with the majority "walking wounded".

'Smashed the windows'

"Unfortunately the driver of the train was more seriously injured and his injuries are believed to be life-changing," Supt Garrett said.

Passenger Angela Mattingley said there was some panic in the carriages when everything went black and people were thrown forwards and hit their heads.

Lucy Gregory, who was also onboard, said she was launched across a table by the impact and ended up on the floor.

Media caption,
Watch passengers describe the moment when the trains collided

"They smashed the windows and we got out of the window. It was really scary," she said.

Corinna Anderson, 51, from Derby, described being thrown against a wall and said a three-week-old baby was rescued.

Cameron Thrower, who was taken to hospital for treatment after injuring his arm and shoulder, said he was preparing to get off the train when there was a huge amount of shaking and noise.

'Huge calamitous moment'

"We were being tossed around and I turned around behind me to see a huge whoosh of fire and sparks. It was this huge calamitous moment when you go 'oh no' and you can barely put a thought together until you get off the floor and realise something has gone terribly wrong," he said.

"First moment was bewilderment when you get up, look around and realise you're at a 45 degree angle but then it was good to see everyone trying to see if others around them were ok.

"We were trying to pull open doors to get people out. It was a crazy moment you never expect to happen in your life."

Image caption,
The impact of the collision was likened to a bomb going off

Tamar Vellacott, 25, said she was walking outside with her young children, around a kilometre (0.62 miles) from the scene.

"It was a noise we've never heard before... my young ones started panicking thinking it was a bomb and we said maybe a lorry had crashed on the London Road and not to panic.

"There was no screeching like brakes, just a long rumbling sound like thunder hitting the railway line."

Martin Frobisher, Network Rail's safety and engineering director, said it was too early to say what had caused the collision.

He said: "Passengers must have had a really scary experience and we're very sorry for that.

"A detailed forensic investigation into what happened is now taking place."

Image caption,
British Transport Police and the Rail Accident Investigation Branch are looking into the cause of the collision

Salisbury mayor Caroline Corbin thanked the emergency services for their response and all the people in the area who offered their help throughout the night.

"I am hugely relieved that there were no fatalities and wish those who were injured in the collision a speedy recovery," she said.

The city's MP John Glen said he was thankful everyone was safe but there were "many questions to be answered" over what happened.

Downing Street said "the prime minister's thoughts remain with those who were affected by the incident".

Image source, PA Media
Image caption,
Staff from the Office of Road and Rail (ORR) and the Rail Accident Investigation Branch (RAIB) have been examining the scene

The disruption to journeys is likely to last at least a few days, with a senior rail source suggesting the position of the crash - half in and half out of the tunnel - meant recovering the train carriages would be more complicated and take longer.

SWR said it was currently unable to run any services in or out of Salisbury station. A "limited" bus replacement service will operate but the firm asked people to avoid "all but essential travel" in the area.

GWR said it was unable to call at stations between Salisbury and Romsey, in Hampshire, and buses would replace trains.

It advised passengers that journeys from Cardiff, Bristol and Bath to Southampton and Portsmouth would "likely" be faster via Reading.

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