Passenger describes terror of landslide derailment

A passenger today described the terrifying moment a train derailed when it hit a landslide in England.

A passenger today described the terrifying moment a train derailed when it hit a landslide in England.

Adrian Webb, 41, said rocks and soil were thrown in the air as the front carriage of the train ploughed in to the ground next to the line.

Several windows were smashed by flying debris as clouds of acrid black smoke were blown back into the carriages.

Emergency services said no-one was injured when the Bognor to London Victoria service derailed near Redhill, Surrey, at about 12.30pm today.

Firefighters and railway staff are helping to evacuate up to 800 passengers from the train, which left Bognor at 10.59am.

Speaking from the train, Mr Webb, who was in the third carriage, said the accident happened shortly after it left a tunnel.

“There was an enormous noise of rubble hitting the train. It must have been quite a substantial impact because the front engine came off completely.

“It then started churning up the sidings and rocks were thrown up. There was smoke and a terrible strong smell of ground-up stone.

“We basically ground to a halt, literally, we went about 100 yards. Everyone said ‘Oh my God, there is something wrong’.”

Mr Webb, of Reigate, said he could not estimate how fast the train was travelling before the impact, or whether the driver braked.

Network Rail said the accident took place at Merstham tunnel, several miles north of Redhill.

Police, firefighters and paramedics were called to the scene, which Mr Webb said was down a steep 45ft embankment.

Daren Cripps, of Surrey Fire and Rescue, said the eight-carriage train was believed to be carrying up to 800 passengers.

He said it would take up to two hours to get all the passengers off the train and on to buses that will take them to Purley station.

A spokesman for train operator Southern said only the front set of wheels on the first carriage left the track.

He said buses will now replace services between Purley and Redhill, although through trains will be diverted via an alternative line. They will not call at Merstham and Redhill.

He said: “It is not going to affect a huge number of people in terms of service disruption.”

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