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Tuesday, 02 September 2014

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Railway disrupted after train derails

DISRUPTION continued today for rail passengers as engineers repair a stretch of track where a landslip caused a train to derail.

trainderailmw
Off the rails: The train came off the track due to a landslip

More than 100 passengers were on board a service that came off the railway on the Cumbrian coastal route. No-one was injured.

Network Rail engineers have now started work to repair the affected piece of line, with work not due to be completed until Monday.

That means services being suspended at Whitehaven for those travelling west from Carlisle.

No trains will run between Whitehaven and Sellafield stations until after the weekend.

The Sellafield service, which does not normally run on Sundays anyway, is used by some Carlisle-based workers travelling to the nuclear complex.

Repair work on the track will be concentrated at Nethertown, one mile from the St Bees station.

It will also involve strengthening sea defences

The derailment came as devastating flash floods struck in the west of the county, hitting homes and causing severe travel problems.

Terrified passengers on board the derailed train said that the carriages rattled and bumped before grounding to a halt.

Three hours after becoming stranded, a relief train, which had travelled from Sellafield, took the passengers back to the nuclear plant.

But their hopes were soon shattered when they hit another landslide, the other side of Nethertown station, and had to turn around and head back to where they had come from.

Police vehicles and coaches met them off the train and finally took them to safety – five hours after the train derailed.

The Rail Accident Investigation Branch immediately started to conduct an investigation. A Network Rail helicopter scoured the west coast line, searching for further problems.

Jo Kaye, Network Rail route managing director, said that the line is likely to reopen on Monday morning.

Coaches will transport passengers between Whitehaven and Sellafield while the work is being carried out.

Meanwhile, it has emerged that the owners of a hotel engulfed by a flash flood had hours earlier watched their house being flattened after part of it crumbled into a river.

Ken O’Hara and Belinda Taylor could not believe their luck when they were hit with two separate disasters at their properties, which are four miles apart.

The back of their four-storey house on Vale View in Egremont collapsed into the River Ehen on Tuesday and bulldozers moved in to flatten it overnight.

And unbelievably, less than 48 hours later, the couple’s hotel The Blackbeck Inn, was hit by flash floods yesterday.

At the Blackbeck Inn, on the A595 just outside of Beckermet, the dining room, toilets, bar area, reception, laundry room and car park were under water during the downpour.

But it wasn’t until 6am, when the water had seeped out, when Mr O’Hara got up to go to work at Sellafield that he realised what had happened.

“We never heard a thing,” he said. “I just came downstairs and put my foot in it. Then it started to dawn on me that we had a real problem.

“I saw the mud in the bar and then I started to salvage things.”

A £50,000 fund has been set up for victims of the flooding in Cumbria.

The ‘emergency assistance’ cash has been set up by Cumbria Community Foundation and is aimed at people over 70, families with children under five and people with disabilities or on low incomes.

People can apply for grants of up to £1,000 to help them clean up their homes and recover from the flooding.

For more information or to apply for a grant, see www.cumbriafoundation.org.

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