A container freight train heading for Manchester from Southampton struck a fallen apple tree at the Newbury St. bridge in Whitchurch, Hampshire.
According to Network Rail engineers at the scene, the train was travelling at 65mph when the driver spotted the tree on the line at around 4:45am, after having left Southampton sometime around 3:30am.
Luckily, the train remained on the tracks and did not derail after the driver applied the emergency brake. The train came to a full stop 1/4 mile down the track.
Two Network Rail engineers received their call at 5.05 this morning. A twitter alert by NRE_SWT was sent out at 5.29am. It took them over 2 hours to free the remains of the tree which had become wedged under the engine. They left the scene clear at 8.10am – except for a few remaining apples and presumably some sauce.
The tree damaged some of the undercarriage of the engine, possibly a fuel line, but repairs at the scene made it work well enough so that the train could move off to a siding just outside Basingstoke station, albeit at just 5mph.
Passenger services between Basingstoke and Salisbury were disrupted. The 8.13 to London was the first train through Whitchurch this morning. Normal service has now resumed.
According to a person at the scene, the train driver immediately took emergency measures to bring the train to a stop and then took cover himself. There were no injuries nor was anyone nearby hurt – no doubt due to the quick thinking of the train driver.
The Newbury St bridge is scheduled for demolition later this year so that a new bridge with a wider underpass can be installed. This will permit larger ‘A10’ container trains to pass underneath.
Further pictures are on WhitchurchForums.org.uk. A story about the bridge replacement is HERE.
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