Man is killed as trains crash

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The Independent Online
A man was killed and more than 30 people were injured last night when a passenger train hit another train which had been derailed in Cumbria.

The accident happened just before 7pm at Aisgill on the Carlisle to Settle line south of Kirkby Stephen. The 16.26 Carlisle-to-Leeds Sprinter was forced to change direction at a tunnel because of severe flooding. It was returning to Carlisle when it was partly derailed by a landslide caused by torrential rain. It was then hit by the train travelling north. An inquiry has been launched.

A spokesman for Regional Railways North East, which operates the trains, denied initial reports that the first train had been reversing along the track that the second was using.

He said: "The 16.26 Carlisle to Leeds train changed direction and, following proper operating procedure, went back along the track because of flooding on the line. The landslide pushed it on to the neighbouring track which is where it was hit by the other train." The dead man was said to be a British Rail employee.

Cumbria police and mountain rescue service were at the scene last night, together with three fire engines, a fire-service rescue unit and 10 ambulances.

A spokesman for the fire service said one person was trapped in the wreckage and had to be cut free. Rescue crews were having difficulty reaching the site because it was some distance from the nearest road.

According to police, the rescue operation was also being hampered by adverse weather conditions, which had blocked many of the surrounding roads.

Some of the casualties were taken by special train to the Cumberland Infirmary in Carlisle. One of the injured was last night described as being in a "serious" condition.

The Cumbrian rail collision comes as the inquiry continues into a train crash last October at Cowden, Kent, in which five people died.