Two trains have crashed between Andover and Salisbury, injuring passengers and prompting a major emergency service response.
Passengers on board spoke of their terror as they were thrown into the air as the trains collided in a tunnel in Wiltshire on the South Western and Great Western Railway line.
A huge emergency service response has been triggered, with at least 50 fire fighters on the scene and 100 people rushed to safety.
No one was killed in the crash, British Transport Police announced at around 9pm.
People on the trains train described red flashes before “everything went black” after the trains collided.
One of the trains was derailed and launched onto its side after smashing into an object on the tracks.
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Seventeen people received treatment in hospital, with the injured described as “walking wounded” by witnesses.
Footage from the scene shows passengers walking along the tracks towards safety as emergency workers use torches to guide them through darkness.
Angela Mattingly, who was on the train, told the BBC: “Everything went black and there were red flashes and everything.”
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Another passenger, Lucy Gregory, said the incident was “really scary”.
“We were just pulling into Salisbury station and the train felt a bit juddery,” she said.
“I’d just stood up and put my coat on and my phone in my pocket when there was this massive impact and I fell across the table.”
Dimitri Popa was travelling on the train from London to Sherborne when the terrifying crash occurred.
The 17 year old said: “It all happened so fast… I was just sitting in the first carriage and there was a huge crash.
“Then I saw the flames and got pretty scared, and all the lights went out.
“The carriage was 45 degrees to the right.
“We didn’t know where we were or anything… we were all just so shocked.”
Sailor Morgan Harris, who was travelling from London Waterloo back to his base in Yeovil, said he was thrown from his seat due to the impact of the huge crash.
The 20 year old Able Seaman said: “It was all going along normally then, all of a sudden, there was this massive bang and all of the lights went out.
“There was sparks and flames from where we had come off the track, and there was a load of ash coming from outside.
“Our train was on its side… I was thrown out of my seat and banged against the table.”
The British Transport Police and fire chiefs later confirmed the train’s driver was one of 100 people evacuated and is in hospital – but did not say what caused the derailment.
The incident was described as ‘complex’ and a lengthy investigation will now take place, with the train line expected to be out for ‘some time’.
At a press conference outside St Mark’s Church, BTP Inspector Mullah Hoque said: “We were called to Fisherton Tunnel in Salisbury at 6.45pm following reports of a train derailment which involved two passenger trains colliding.
“Officers are continuing to respond to the incident alongside our emergency service colleagues and the line is expected to be shut for some time.
“Thankfully, there have been no fatalities however a number of people have been injured.
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“Most of these people are walking wounded however a small number of people, including the driver, have been taken to the hospital where their injuries are being assessed.
“A major incident has been declared and this has been a large-scale, multi-agency approach.
“We will remain on site throughout the night working to establish how this incident came to happen.”
Insp Hoque did not say how many people were injured or what caused the incident.
Dorset and Wiltshire Fire Service Assistant Chief Officer Andy Cole said: “Firefighters have carried out a thorough search of the train carriages and we’ve assisted with the evacuation of approximately 100 people.
“We do not believe there are any further casualties on board the train.”
He described it as a ‘complex incident’ and did not say what might have caused the derailment when asked.
Police helicopters and a coast guard ambulance were sent to the tunnel shortly before 7pm on Sunday.
People living in the area reported hearing a loud bang around the time of the crash.
Peter Golden, 52, from Laverstock, Wiltshire, said: “It sounded like something big collapsing – the sound of things falling into each other.
“With the windy day we’ve had I first thought it was a big gust of wind that has knocked something heavy over.
“It wasn’t till the helicopter arrived on station over the tunnel that I realised what I had heard.”
A mother who was out trick or treating with her family nearby has likened the noise of the train crash to “a bomb” and “thunder”.
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Tamar Vellacott said she was walking outside with her young children, mother and partner on Jewell Close, Bishopdown, around a kilometre from the scene.
“It was a noise we’ve never heard before… my young ones started panicking thinking it was a bomb and we said maybe a lorry had crashed on the London Road and not to panic,” the 25-year-old told PA.
“There was no screeching like brakes, just a long rumbling sound like thunder hitting the railway line.
“It did spook us though, so we decided to get in our car and drive home to Laverstock where three police cars passed us at speed.”
The derailed train is believed to be on its side, but the SWR train is upright.
It is unclear how the second train was allowed to continue into the tunnel, with rail enthusiasts online suggesting the derailed train may have confused the system if it was fully off the tracks.
A critical incident has been declared and the line will remain closed at the country end of Salisbury.
It is understood that the 1708 Portsmouth Harbour to Bristol Temple Meads train, a Great Western service, hit an object as it came out of a tunnel near Salisbury station and the rear carriage derailed.
The incident damaged signalling.
It is believed a South Western Railway service from London Waterloo to Honiton collided with the rear of the derailed train.
Those delayed by the crash are able to claim money back for a taxi if they’re required to get one, National Rail has said.
Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said investigations into the crash would be undertaken in order to help prevent similar “serious” incidents in future.
“My thoughts go out to those affected by the serious rail incident near Salisbury,” Mr Shapps tweeted.
“Emergency services on scene & we are working closely with @networkrail & operators.
“The @railgovuk & @railandroad will investigate. We need to understand how this happened to prevent in the future.”
Wiltshire Police tweeted shortly before 8pm: “We are currently at the scene of a train crash involving two trains between Andover and Salisbury.
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“We are responding with the fire and ambulance service at the site close to London Road, Salisbury.
“Will update as soon as we have more information.”
The crash led to major delays and cancelled trains on the line as the emergency service response is carried out.
One woman wrote online: “I live nearby and there’s been at least 30 sirens including 5 fire engines.”
Wiltshire Fire Service tweeted: “We are currently at the scene of a train crash near London Rd, Salisbury.
“Approx 50 firefighters from both @DWFireRescue & @HantsIOW_fire are working with partners from @wiltshirepolice, @swasFT and @networkrail at this major incident.
“Will update as we have more information.”
Wiltshire Police said they were responding to the incident along with Dorset and Wiltshire Fire, the ambulance service and British Transport Police.
A spokesman for National Rail Enquiries said: “The emergency services are dealing with an incident between Westbury and Southampton Central which means all lines are currently blocked.
“As a result of this, trains may be cancelled which is expected to continue until the end of the day. “
A casualty centre was set up at St Marks Church after the major incident unfolded.
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