Salisbury train crash: 120 rescued from tunnel and driver in hospital after two trains collide

Police, fire crews and paramedics are at the scene

Alastair Jamieson,Simon Calder
Monday 01 November 2021 07:21
Passengers injured and driver temporarily trapped after trains collide

Up to 120 injured and “visibly shaken” passengers were rescued from the wreckage after two trains crashed inside a tunnel near Salisbury, Wiltshire on Sunday night.

The driver of one train had to be cut free from his cab by firefighters after the serious derailment and collision

Passengers described being thrown from their seats by a “massive bang” as lights in the train went out.

The crash happened at 6.46pm in Fisherton Tunnel, on the east side of Salisbury where the line from the south coast of England joins the line from London.

The 5.08pm GWR Portsmouth to Bristol service struck an object and derailed, knocking out signals, Network Rail said.

It was then hit by the 5.20pm Southwestern Railway London Waterloo to Honiton train.

Sailor Morgan Harris, who was travelling on the second train back to his base in Yeovil, said: “It was all going along normally then, all of a sudden, there was this massive bang and all of the lights went out.“There was sparks and flames from where we had come off the track, and there was a load of ash coming from outside.

“Our train was on its side. I was thrown out of my seat and banged against the table.”

Another passenger, Angela Mattingly, said: “Everything went black and there were red flashes and everything.

“There was suddenly a lot of jostling, possessions being thrown around and I think a few people went forward and hit their heads. You just don’t know for a couple of seconds what’s happening.

“People started to panic but nobody was seriously injured.”

Passenger Máté Szeverenyi, who fell and hurt his arm, told the Salisbury Journal: “We were told to stay seated. After the initial screams, shock and impact everyone remained relatively calm.”

Emergency services, including some 50 firefighters, attended the scene on Sunday evening with a critical incident being declared.

The reverend of a church that was used as a casualty centre said 120 train passengers were taken to the site.

“There were some people who were visibly shaken and others had some injuries and others were frustrated and just wanted to get home,” he said.

A mother who was out trick or treating with her family nearby likened the noise of the crash to “a bomb” and “thunder”.

Tamar Vellacott 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.”

Local MP John Glen thanked the emergency services who released the trapped driver.

An Office of Rail and Road spokesperson said: “We’re supporting Network Rail and the train operators, plus RAIB [Rail Accident Investigation Branch] and the British Transport Police with respect to the collision between two trains near Salisbury Tunnel Junction and liaising with emergency services responding to the incident.”

Transport Salaried Staffs Association general secretary Manuel Cortes said the incident was “a very sobering reminder about why safety on our railways is always paramount”.

The area has been affected by huge amounts of surface water from torrential rain, although it is unclear if the weather was involved in the incident.

A trespasser was removed from the track at the tunnel on Saturday, according to a report in the Salisbury Journal. The man was spotted by a driver but was removed by police.

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