Salisbury train wreck: What we know sofar


The 17.08pm Portsmouth Harbour to Bristol Temple Meads run by Great Western Railway comes to a halt as it enters the Fisherton Tunnel in Salisbury at around 18.38pm on Sunday.

Dozens of people remain trapped inside for seven minutes until the second crash.

Passengers described feeling an immediate ‘jolt’ when the train stopped at the tunnel. Early reports from survivors suggested that the train struck something similar to a rock or a branch, and was then derailed.

British Transport Police claims it has not found any evidence of this, though there are suggestions that it was only struck seven minutes after the strike.

TRAIN 2 HITS TRAIN 1, 18.45pm 

South West Rail’s 17.20pm London Waterloo-Honiton in Devon train will arrive at Salisbury Station at 18.47pm.

It hits the sider rear and of GWR Service that had derailed at speed. This forces it off the track.

Investigators are investigating the reasons why the signalling failed to stop the train after it was first derailed.    

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A passenger who was hurt in the Salisbury train accident has described the ‘extremely frightening’ moment when a ‘huge howl of fire’ erupted behind him during the horror smash.

Cameron Thrower was one of 13 people hurt when two passenger trains crashed in the Fisherton tunnel near Salisbury at 6.45pm on Sunday.

After their train came to a halt in a tunnel, Great Western Railways passengers from Portsmouth Harbour to Bristol Temple Meads were forced to get out of their black carriages.

Around 50 people were stuck on the derailed train for seven minute before a South Western Railway train from London to Honiton, with approximately 50 more people, arrived on the station train at 6.45pm.  

Miraculously, nobody was killed. However, one of the train drivers was left with ‘life-changing injuries’, the British Transport Police said. Investigators are trying to determine whether a signal problem caused the fatal collision. 

Speaking to BBC Breakfast, Mr Thrower from Dorset described how he was ‘waiting’ to pull into Salisbury when he was suddenly thrown onto the floor by the locomotives. He called the incident extremely frightening’.

He said, “The next thing I know, there’s just a huge noise, and I’m being thrown around the joiner carriage.” Worst of all, when I turn around to look behind me, there’s a huge explosion of sparks and fire outside. The next thing I know, I’m in the dark on my floor, wondering what happened. It was extremely frightening at that moment.

He said that there was a spirit that encouraged ‘coming together’ during the crash. Dan Walker asked him: ‘Even though it was terrible, everyone was doing the first thing they could to make sure their fellow man was okay and make sure everyone else is fine. If they were, they were getting all the help they could in that moment.  

It is believed that the SWR train should not have stopped but instead drove into the other train. The possibility of a red light malfunction, human error or brake failure causing the train’s skid are all possible. The speed limit for this section is 20 mph.

British Transport Police’s DCI Paul Langley stated that this was a frightening experience for all the involved. Our thoughts and condolences are with their families. Specialist officers and detectives remain at the scene in Salisbury and are working closely with the Rail Accident Investigation Branch and the Office of Rail and Road, to determine exactly how the trains collided.

Initial reports suggested that one train could have stopped in the tunnel due to falling masonry or Earth. However, Mr Langley stated that there was no evidence to suggest that the train hit an object or that there were any delays between the trains colliding and the other derailing.

A Downing Street spokesperson stated that: “The Prime Minister’s thoughts remain at the bottom of those who were hurt by the incident.”

Yesterday, passengers at Salisbury station were presented with departures and arrivals screens that showed almost all cancelled trains. Yesterday’s joint Network Rail, GWR & SWR statement stated that passengers should expect chaos in the coming days.  

RAIB spokesperson said that five inspectors were on site, along with support staff, and they had already begun inspecting the train, tracks, infrastructure, and gathering electronic evidence.

Investigators at the scene of a crash involving two trains near the Fisherton Tunnel between Andover and Salisbury in Wiltshire

Investigators at the scene in an accident involving two trains, near the Fisherton Tunnel in Andover and Salisbury, Wiltshire

Emergency services personnel gather near the site where two trains collided near Salisbury

Near Salisbury, emergency services personnel gathered near the scene where two trains collided.

Cameron Thrower was one of 13 people hurt when two passenger trains crashed in the Fisherton tunnel near Salisbury at 6.45pm on Sunday

Cameron Thrower was among 13 people who were injured when two passenger trains collided in the Fisherton Tunnel near Salisbury at 6.45pm Sunday

Passengers on a Great Western Railways service from Portsmouth Harbour to Bristol Temple Meads were thrown around their pitch-black carriages after their train 'jolted' to a halt in the tunnel, sending it off the rails as it entered the 430-yard underpass. Around 50 people were stranded on the derailed train for seven minutes before a South Western Railway service from London to Honiton with around 50 more people on board then ploughed into the stationary train at around 6.45pm

After their train stopped in the tunnel, the Great Western Railways passenger service from Portsmouth Harbour was thrown out of their dark carriages and it sped off the tracks as it entered the underpass at 430 yards. The train was derailed for seven minutes, leaving around 50 people stranded. A South Western Railway service from London and Honiton, with 50 additional people aboard, arrived at 6.45pm.

Two trains collided in Fisherton Tunnel this morning. More than a dozen people were transported to hospital, but none were critically hurt.

In the aftermath of the crash, the South West Railway train (left) is seen with its cab mangled after hitting the back of the stationary GWR service, which had previously partially derailed in a tunnel close to Salisbury station

The South West Railway train (left) is seen in the aftermath of the crash with its cab damaged from hitting the backside of the GWR service. This had been partially derailment in a tunnel located near Salisbury station. 

The SWR service, being referred to as 'Train 2', appears to be the most badly damaged of the two trains with carriages leaning at 45 degrees

The SWR service is referred to as “Train 2” and has carriages that lean at 45 degrees.

108 trains cancelled per day until Friday morning when the derailment tunnel has been closed 

Four days of chaos are expected for those who travel along the country’s main railway line to the south-west or south coast. 

Today’s cancellation of 108 train services via Salisbury was due to last night’s derailment/crash. 

Disruption after a train crash in Salisbury that left many people hurt will continue for several days.

National Rail Enquiries stated that most lines serving Wiltshire are blocked and would remain closed ‘until at least the end on Thursday’.

This is affecting Great Western Railway’s (GWR) services on the route connecting Cardiff and Bristol with Portsmouth, Brighton, and London.

Several South Western Railway (SWR) routes are also affected, such as London Waterloo-Exeter, Bristol-Salisbury and Southampton-Salisbury.

Passengers are asked not to travel on the affected sections of the network.

The first train passengers described feeling a jolt and a bump before it stopped. Early reports indicate that the train was derailed by debris hitting the track due to heavy rains and strong winds yesterday. One woman on the train suggested that the first train might have been thrown from its track after it struck a piece of tunnel stone or a fallen tree.

A three-week-old baby boy was among those who were rescued. Corinna, 51, from Derby was on the SWR Train and said that she saw a fireman hold the baby in his arms. 

Callum Stedman, 16 years old, said passengers feared a terrorist attack and believed they would die in the smoke filled carriages of the train. He said to The Sun that he felt a jolt, and everything went black. We all landed on one another and the train was at 45 degrees to its side. People’s phones started to light up and we began to look around. You see people with broken noses, black eyes, and blood dripping.

It was scary. The worst part was the smoke. You thought it would catch fire and you’d die.

He said, “Outside the door, there was a huge fireball. Everyone panicked. There was a lot of crying and some people were even kicking the windows. 

Lucy Gregory said to BBC: “We were just pulling into Salisbury station, and the train felt a bit juddery. I was just standing up and had my coat on. I had my phone in my pocket. Then, there was a massive impact that sent me across the table. I fell underneath another table after the table fell against the wall. They broke the windows and they got us out of the window. It was quite scary.

BTP however stated that they have not yet discovered evidence of this. This raises serious concerns about how and why the GWR train remained stationary at the time the crash occurred.

MailOnline was also told by a senior railway engineer, that signals had a major flaw. They failed to automatically turn red, allowing the second high-speed intercity SWR service to hit the train and leave at least 17 people hurt. 

The train driver, which was full of teenagers and families returning home from half term, was trapped in the cab. Other passengers on board were also injured and had to be rescued. Surprisingly, no one was hurt.

One teenager on the second train travelling from London to Devon grabbed his phone and filmed inside one carriage that was tipping over and said: ‘F*** me. Before zooming in on an injured man, we are literally on their side’, he said: “That guy’s face’. 

Another survivor stated: “It’s really scary. People started taking videos saying “mum, dad, I love You” because they were afraid they would die.”   

Train passengers described hearing a loud bang, a bomb going off, and then flying glass, sparks from grinding metal, and tables flying across the carriages.  Around 120 people were saved by firefighters and paramedics, including a three-week old baby.  

Abigail Taylor was with the first train. She said it was in the tunnel for about five minutes before it was struck again by the second train.

She said, “We stopped in the tunnel, and then the train just jostled several times. It was clear that something was wrong. It was almost like turbulence aboard a plane, but worse.  People said that there was a fallen tree, which is why we had derail, and that something had happened to the signals, which is why another train hit us. But I don’t know if this was true. It was a miracle that nobody was killed’. 

Downing Street stated that the Prime Minister was thinking of those who were injured in the Salisbury train accident, but that the Government was investing in order to ensure that the railway network remains ‘one the most secure in the world.

A spokesperson for No 10 said that the Rail Accident Investigation Branch (RAIB), had been deployed to the scene and were conducting forensic investigations. The Prime Minister’s thoughts are with all those who were affected.

“It would be inappropriate to comment further at the moment while the RAIB are investigating what happened.”

The spokesman added: ‘I think it’s important that we let the RAIB investigate this thoroughly, but more generally in terms of safety standards on the network it’s obviously a top priority for this Government, which is why we have allocated £40 billion worth of spending to ensure that the railways continue to be one of the safest in the world.’

Morgan Harris, a Royal Navy sailor, was on his way from London Waterloo to Yeovil when he was struck by the massive crash. Able Seaman, 20, said that everything was going well until suddenly there was a loud bang and the lights went out. There were sparks and flames emanating from the tracks where we had been, and there was a lot ash coming out of the outside. Our train was on its sides… I was thrown to the side and banged against my table.

“It sounded just like a bomb going off” 

Witnesses described hearing a loud bang that sounded ‘like a bomb going off,’ when two trains collided in a tunnel near Salisbury last evening.

Local resident who lives near the tunnels claimed that she was out celebrating Hallowe’en with her children when she heard the train crash. She said she loved to thunder or hear a bomb go off.

Tamar Vellacott told reporters that she was out with her children and mother celebrating hallowe’en at the time of the crash.

The 25-year-old said, “It was an unusual sound, my children panicked thinking it was bombs.”

“There was no screeching or brakes sound, just a long rumbling sound similar to thunder. We were still frightened, so we got in our car to drive home. We were passed by three police cars. 

Peter Golden, 52, of Laverstock in Wiltshire said that the collision’sounded almost like a big collapsing, the sound of things falling into one another’.

“With the windy day that we’ve had, I initially thought it was a big gust wind that had knocked over something heavy.

“It wasn’t until the helicopter arrived on the station over the tunnel, that I realized what I had heard.”

“The first helicopter arrived at the station and began hovering around 30-40 minutes after the collision. 

“There were many sirens and emergency vehicles along London Road.

“Emergency vehicles were arriving from the west, east – presumably Andover as well Salisbury. 

Dimitri Popa, a Romanian passenger, was on the train from London Sherborne when the terrible crash occurred.

The 17-year old replied, “It all happened very fast… I was just sitting in my first carriage when there was a massive crash. I was terrified when I saw the flames, and the lights went out. The carriage was located 45 degrees to the right. We didn’t know anything or where we were… we were all just as shocked. 

A young woman who lived in Fisherton Tunnel’s closest house, where the crash took place and the trains still remain, shared her horror at seeing girls as young as 15 suffer from broken bones. The woman, who wishes to remain anonymous, stated that she saw two girls sitting across the bridge. They were seen from one of my bedroom windows. 

“They were wrapped in silver blankets, and everything. They were sitting on the bank directly across from our house, one of the girls looking like she had broken her heel. “The other girl was so scared and shocked that she was actually breathing into a bag. 

They were teenagers. They were probably around 15 years of age, I would think. The train had a lot of young people. “We also saw people bring big equipment to cut through the train’s metal, as there were so many people inside. 

MailOnline spoke to a senior Network Rail engineer under anonymity. He claimed that the GWR train collided and was derailed. There should be an “automatic obstruction warning” to stop any train from entering the same mile-long stretch. 

Network Rail has discovered a serious flaw in its signalling system. They stated that the system states that the line is unsafe for another train because of an obstruction. It should have stopped it immediately. It should have automatically turned all red signals on. The system should have made the train stop if the driver failed to see the signal. 

The whistleblower stated that he had realized for many years that there have been many failures within the company. [Network Rail]They said that they had feared an incident such as this would occur ‘for the past two year’.

17 people were injured including one of the drivers, who was cut free having suffered a suspected broken ankle. A small number of people were taken to hospital while the ‘walking wounded” were treated at a nearby church, where they were given blankets, food, and first aid.

Officials called it a “critical” incident while observers claimed that it was a miracle that nobody was killed.

MailOnline has been informed that an investigation into a major rail accident is underway. Experts will examine the reasons signals that should be turned red to warn of approaching trains but did not, and MailOnline was told. It is possible that signalling in the area was also disrupted by the derailed train.  

Witnesses claimed that they heard a sound like a bomb going off during the crash, which was one the most serious in recent times on the UK rail network. One passenger described her terror at being thrown around the train by the crashing train. 

Angela Mattingly, a passenger on the SWR train, stated that everything went black and there were flashes of red and everything.

“There was a lot more jostling, possessions were being thrown around, and I believe a few people went forward to hit their heads. It is hard to believe that this is happening. People started to panic, but nobody was seriously hurt.

Lucy Gregory said to BBC: “We were just pulling into Salisbury station, and the train felt a bit juddery. I was just standing up and had my coat on. I had my phone in hand. I fell across the table. I ended up under another table after the table fell off of the wall. They broke the windows, and we were able to get out. It was quite scary. 

A British Transport Police officer reported last night that the driver and some other people were being taken to hospital.

Sky News interview: Inspector Mullah Hoque confirmed that they would remain on the scene throughout the night to investigate what happened.

He stated that most of the people were walking wounded. However, a few, including the driver, were taken to a hospital for evaluation.

Andy Cole, assistant chief fire officer for Dorset & Wiltshire Fire & Rescue service, said they had rescued approximately 100 people from the train carriages and confirmed there had been no fatalities.

Tamar Vellacott stated that she was walking with her children, mother, and partner from Jewell Close, Bishopdown. They were about a kilometre away from the scene.

“It was a strange noise that we have never heard before… My young ones panicked thinking it was a bomb, and we suggested maybe a lorry had crashed onto the London Road and not panic,” the 25-year old said.

“There was no screeching or brake noise, just a long rumbling sound that sounded like thunder hitting the railway tracks.

An injured man on one of the trains caught up in the horror smash in Salisbury last night

People were laying on the floor of one of the carriages with cuts, suspected fractures and broken noses with some calling loved ones fearing they would die

Left: A man injured on a train caught in the horror smash in Salisbury last evening (left). People were found lying on the floor of one carriage (right), with suspected fractures and broken noses. Some even called their loved ones, fearing that they would die.

Images taken from on board the derailed SWR train showed it at a 45-degree angle in the tunnel after the collision

Images taken on board the derail SWR train after the collision showed it at a 45 degree angle in the tunnel. 

Emergency crews rushed to the scene at Fisherton Tunnel between Andover and Salisbury following the collision at around 6.45pm yesterday evening. The SWR train from London to Devon is seen on an angle after colliding with a stopped GWR service

After the collision at 6.45pm yesterday, emergency crews were called to the scene at Fisherton Tunnel in Salisbury. After colliding with a stopped GWR train, the SWR train from London-Devon can be seen at an angle

The entrance to Fisherton Tunnel near Salisbury.

The entrance to Fisherton Tunnel near Salisbury. The rear carriage of a GWR train from Portsmouth to Bristol derailed after most of the train had entered the tunnel on the track that emerges from the left of this image. The SWR train then collided with it having approached the tunnel from the track that runs under the road this image is taken from. The rear of the GWR train was shunted into the tunnel wall at the left of the entrance, while the SWR train derailed more fully and crossed on to the right-side of the tunnel on a 45-degree angle

The entrance to Fisherton Tunnel, near Salisbury. After most of the train had entered Tunnel on the track to the left, the rear carriage of a GWR train going from Portsmouth to Bristol was derail. After approaching the tunnel via the track that runs underneath the road, the SWR train collided with it. The GWR train’s rear was shoved into the tunnel wall at the entrance. Meanwhile, the SWR train was more severely derail and crossed to the right-side tunnel at a 45 degree angle.

The drama unfolded at Fisherton Tunnel. This is a major junction that joins two lines as they approach Salisbury, from the south and the east.

Firstly the 17:08 Great Western Rail service from Portsmouth Harbour to Bristol Temple Meads, which entered the junction from the south, hit an object the tunnel – possibly material that fell from the tunnel roof, sources said – and the rear carriage derailed. Bad weather was causing delays on the rail network.

Seven minutes later, at 6.45pm, the 17.20 South West Rail train, which was scheduled to arrive in Salisbury at 6.47pm on London Waterloo, arrived at the junction from the east. For some reason signals had not alerted the driver of the obstruction – or had failed to stop his train if he missed the red lights.

The SWR train crashed into a GWR service in the tunnel. It derailed itself, and skidded at 45 degrees inside the tunnel. The tunnel wall apparently held it up. The driver was trapped in his mangled car and had to be freed by emergency workers. Only the last carriage was able to stand upright.

Tamar Vellacott stated to reporters that she was walking along with her children about half a mile from the crash scene when they heard it.

The 25-year-old said, “It was an unusual sound, my children panicked thinking it was bombs.”

“There was no screeching or brakes sound, just a long rumbling sound similar to thunder. We were a bit scared, but we decided to get into our car and drive home. Three police cars passed us very fast. 

The engineer stated that the incident could not have been avoided if the oncoming train was too near the GWR. However, this could not be the case given the seven-minute warning.

“There has been a major fault in the signalling system within Network Rail.”  

Emergency services said they would remain at the scene of the collision through the night and it would be days before services could resume

According to emergency services, they would remain on-scene at the accident scene through the night. It would take several days before services could be resumed.

A fleet of ambulances waiting at the scene of the collision. Most of those injured were described as 'walking wounded' however a 'small number' including one driver were take to hospital for checks

A fleet of ambulances waited at the scene of the collision. The majority of the injured were described as “walking wounded”, however, a small number, including one driver, were taken to hospital for medical checks.

Police set up road blocks around the site of the crash. Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said investigations into the crash would be undertaken in order to help prevent similar 'serious' incidents in future

Police set up roadblocks around the scene of the crash. Grant Shapps, Transport Secretary said that investigations into this crash would be conducted to prevent similar’serious’ incidents in the future.

Locals who live around a mile away described hearing a massive bang 'like a bomb going off' as the trains collided

Local residents living around a mile from the train tracks described hearing a loud bang as if a bomb went off when the trains collided.

Peter Golden, 52 years old, is from Laverstock, Wiltshire. He said: “There is a deep cutting leading into a tunnel on Salisbury Station’s approach from the east, and it looks like there is a collision.

It sounded like something huge collapsing. This is the sound of things collapsing into each other. It was windy and I thought it was wind blowing something heavy. It wasn’t until the helicopter arrived on the station over the tunnel, that I realized what I had just heard. The first helicopter arrived on the station and began hovering around 30-40 minutes after the collision.

“On station” refers to when it arrives, hovers, or circles – this is to assist with lightning and eyesight. London Road was filled with emergency vehicles and sirens.

“Emergency vehicles were arriving from the west, east – presumably Andover– as well Salisbury. Friends have shared their stories of passengers being escorted up to the ambulances along London Road. This is a good thing.

The Rail Accident Investigations Branch and the Office for Rail and Road are investigating the incident. 

Martin Frobisher is Network Rail’s group safety and engineering director, technical author. He said that he doesn’t know what exactly happened in the Salisbury train crash on Sunday evening.

He stated that although nobody was seriously injured, it was a relief that no one was hurt. However, the passengers must have had an extremely frightening experience and we are very sorry.

“We are starting now a very thorough and forensic investigation into the incident. The Rail Accident Investigation Branch is present on the scene and they do a great job. This will help us learn from it, which is why these events are very rare. We follow it up very carefully and make sure we do everything we can to prevent them in the future.

Mr Frobisher stated that it was too early to speculate and that there is “a lot of contradictory evidence” in the early stages.

Claire Mann, South Western Railway’s managing director, stated that it was too early to speculate about a collision between two trains near Salisbury.

Good Morning Britain was informed by her: “Our focus right now is with customers and colleagues who have been affected by this, and obviously working with emergency services to understand exactly how it happened.

“Speculation is not appropriate at the moment. We need to wait for the investigation’s course before we can find out what actually happened.

“But I would like you to say a big THANK YOU to the emergency services, who were very prompt in responding last night and moved people from the train quite quickly.

The Rail Accident Investigation Branch tonight said it had deployed inspectors to the site of a collision for a preliminary examination of the scene

Tonight, the Rail Accident Investigation Branch announced that inspectors had been sent to the scene of a collision to conduct a preliminary examination.

Andy Cole (left) from Dorset & Wiltshire Fire and Rescue speaks to the media near the scene of a crash involving two trains near the Fisherton Tunnel between Andover and Salisbury in Wiltshire

Andy Cole (left) from Dorset & Wiltshire Fire and Rescue speaks to the media near the scene of a crash involving two trains near the Fisherton Tunnel between Andover and Salisbury in Wiltshire