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Salisbury train crash: Driver in hospital with ‘life-changing injuries’, police say

Written by on 2 November 2021

A driver involved in a crash between two trains in Salisbury has been left with “life-changing injuries”, police say.

The collision left more than a dozen people requiring hospital treatment – including two who as of Monday afternoon remain at Salisbury District Hospital in a stable condition.

British Transport Police (BTP) said: “A train driver involved in yesterday’s train crash near Salisbury has life-changing injuries. He is one of two people who are still in hospital after the crash.”

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Scene of Salisbury train crash

A “major incident” was declared by BTP on Sunday after a Great Western Railway service from Southampton to Cardiff collided with a South Western Railway service from London to Honiton as they both entered the Fisherton Tunnel in Salisbury at around 6.45pm.

Both trains – carrying 92 passengers in total – were travelling in the same direction and one train struck the other, causing it to derail in the tunnel.

“The front few carriages remained upright, while the back tipped on their side,” Superintendent Lisa Garrett, of BTP, told a news conference on Monday.

She said the investigation is still in its early stages, and that specialist officers and detectives remain at the scene – working closely with the Rail Accident Investigation Branch and the Office of Rail and Road – to find out exactly how the trains came to collide.

Supt Garrett said officers are “keeping an open mind” and added “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”.

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

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Passengers describe ‘scary’ train crash

All those on board the services – around 100 people – were evacuated by firefighters, with around 30 “walking wounded” taken to a casualty centre set up at St Mark’s Church in St Mark’s Avenue in Salisbury.

Passengers described the “scary” experience of being thrown from their seats and seeing “flames”.

One, Dimitri, told Sky News he was “pretty scared” as he “heard a big crash” and “saw flames”.

He added: “After that, the lights went out and the position of the train was like 45 degrees tilted to the right.”

Another, Lucy Gregory, said she fell across a table which came off the wall and ended up underneath another table in what she described as “a really scary” experience.

Disruption following the crash is expected to last several days.

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

This is affecting Great Western Railway (GWR) services on the route linking Cardiff and Bristol with Portsmouth and Brighton.

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

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Salisbury train crash site from above

Downing Street said Boris Johnson’s thoughts were with those injured, and added the government is investing in the railway network to ensure it remains “one of the safest in the world”.

A No 10 spokesman said: “The Rail Accident Investigation Branch (RAIB) 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.

“It would be inappropriate for me to comment further at this time while the RAIB are working to investigate 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 £40bn worth of spending to ensure that the railways continue to be one of the safest in the world.”