Salisbury train crash: Driver suffers ‘life-changing’ injuries after being trapped in cabin

Thirteen passengers treated in hospital after collision outside cathedral city on Sunday evening

Joe Sommerlad
Monday 01 November 2021 21:29
Emergency services line streets near Wiltshire train collision

The driver of one of the trains involved in Sunday’s rail crash near Salisbury has been left with “life-changing” injuries after having to be cut out of his cab.

The two trains collided in the Fisherton Tunnel outside the cathedral city at around 6.46pm on Sunday evening.

British Transport Police (BTP), said: “Thirteen people were taken to hospital by ambulance, where they have received treatment for minor injuries. One remains there.

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

“He also remains in hospital in a stable condition this morning, and his family have been informed.”

There were 92 passengers on board the train services when the collision occurred. The first train – a Great Western Railway service from Portsmouth Harbour to Bristol Temple Meads – is initially thought to have hit an obstacle on the line, before the second – a South Western Railway train from London Waterloo to Honiton – smashed into it, possibly as a result of a signal failure caused by the first train.

However, BTP superintendent Lisa Garrett said on Monday afternoon that “there has been nothing to suggest the train struck an object or that there was any significant delay between the trains colliding and one derailing”, explaining that a specialist investigation was in its early stages and that officers were “keeping an open mind” as to the cause.

Asked whether “anything criminal” had taken place, she replied: “We haven’t ruled out foul play at the moment. Until the investigation has actually concluded we cannot confirm why this happened.”

Following Sunday’s incident, around 30 people were taken to a makeshift casualty centre set up at nearby St Mark’s Church, the majority of whom were walking wounded and assessed at the scene by medics.

The 13 more seriously injured passengers were taken to Salisbury District Hospital for treatment, according to Salisbury NHS Foundation Trust, with four admitted, three of whom have since been discharged.

Stacey Hunter, the trust’s chief executive, said: “I would like to thank all our colleagues who responded to this incident in a calm, professional and compassionate manner. We are all relieved that the outcome of the accident hasn’t been more severe.”

Salisbury mayor Caroline Corbin likewise thanked the emergency services and local volunteers for their help throughout the night, saying: “I am hugely relieved that there were no fatalities and wish those who were injured in the collision a speedy recovery.”

Emergency services at the scene at Fisherton Tunnel near Salisbury on Sunday

Dorset and Wiltshire Fire and Rescue Service said around 100 people were initially evacuated from the scene.

“They smashed the windows and we got out of the window. It was really scary,” passenger Lucy Gregory told the BBC.

Tamar Vellacott, who had also been aboard with her children, said: “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.”

Cameron Thrower, whose arm and shoulder were injured in the incident, said: “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.

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

Another passenger, Dimitri Popa, told Sky News that he “heard a big crash” and “saw flames”, adding: “After that, the lights went out and the position of the train was like 45 degrees tilted to the right.”

A spokesperson for Boris Johnson, said: “The Rail Accident Investigation Branch have been deployed to the site and are conducting forensic investigations, obviously the prime minister’s thoughts remain with those who were affected by the incident.”

Disruption to rail services around Salisbury following the crash is expected to last for several days.

National Rail Enquiries said most of the lines serving the city are currently blocked and “will remain closed until at least the end of the day on Thursday”.

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Join our new commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies


Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in