Lorry crashes on to train leaving seven injured

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The Independent Online

Police and recovery teams were today preparing to remove the wreckage of a 26-tonne cement mixer that plunged on to a train carriage.

But it may be Monday before rail services can return to normal in the area of the incident, in south-west London.

The lorry crashed through a brick wall and on to a commuter line near Oxshott station in Surrey as the Guildford to Waterloo train was passing below.

Five of the 40 passengers on the eight-carriage train were injured, two seriously.

This morning, British Transport Police and Surrey Police were at the scene along with Dominic Raab, the local MP for Esher and Walton.

The Conservative MP said he became aware of the incident at about 5pm yesterday.

He said: "The focus of this operation was on extraction of the injured. We know there were two seriously injured taken to St George's Hospital in London, fortunately non life-threatening."

He said a triage had been set up to account for the other passengers.

Mr Raab said he expected that the train tracks would not be cleared before Monday.

He added that an inquiry would be held into why the bridge collapsed.

"We will have all the inquiries and forensics conducted in the days and hours ahead, both by the police and also by the rail accident investigation branch, but we will have to wait for the outcome as to why this happened and to make sure it doesn't happen again," he said.

Mr Raab said local residents were shocked by the incident.

"It is not the ordinary kind of thing that happens in Oxshott," he said.

British Transport Police were expected to comment later today.

Judith Mellstrom and her husband Stuart have lived next to the bridge, on Warren Lane, for 40 years.

"I heard five huge bangs," Mrs Mellstrom said.

"I realised something awful had happened and came out to investigate. I couldn't get over the size of the hole in the bridge. It was absolutely extraordinary."

Warren Lane links the M25 to the A3.

Mr Mellstrom said there had been problems in the past with large vehicles using the road and he had written to Elmbridge Council about his concerns.

He said: "I said it's a miracle that as far as I know there has not been a fatality to date.

"This is an accident that has been waiting to happen, although it hasn't taken the format that I anticipated. But I have seen so many accidents in this area it is beyond belief."

He said lorries that use the bridge were too heavy and too large.

"This is a Victorian bridge built for light railway and light traffic," he added.

South West Trains managing director Andy Pitt said today: "We would like to thank the emergency services, our on board, operational control and customer service staff, the support team who attended the scene, as well as British Transport Police and Network Rail, for their professional response to yesterday's incident.

"Our thanks must also go to the local community who provided support to passengers during the incident.

"Most importantly, we would like to express our thanks and gratitude to the passengers on the train during the incident for their patience and co-operation during extremely difficult circumstances. Our thoughts continue to be with all of those injured as a result of yesterday's accident.

"We will be assisting the investigating bodies in any way that we can in determining the full circumstances of the incident. At the same time, we are working hard to ensure we are ready to restore full rail services to our customers as soon as possible."

South West Trains said the train remained upright throughout the incident but parts of it were severely damaged.

In a statement, the train operator said: "Accident investigators will carry out a further examination of the train in daylight today before arrangements can be made to move the train and reopen the line.

"As this section of the line is located within a cutting, which is more difficult to access, the removal of the train and subsequent reopening of the line is expected to take a longer period of time."

South West Trains added: "As a result of the incident, no trains are running today between Surbiton and Effingham Junction. Hinchley Wood, Claygate, Oxshott and Cobham and Stoke D'Abernon stations have no train service, and replacement bus services are in operation.

"Trains are being diverted around the disruption via Woking. All other services on the South West Trains network are currently running to the normal Saturday timetable.

"Customers seeking information on the impact of the incident on their journey and details of alternative travel options can use the National Rail Enquiries real-time Journey Planner at http://ojp.nationalrail.co.uk/ or call TrainTracker on 0871 200 49 50."