Train services between Carlisle, Newcastle, Appleby and Skipton may be disrupted for weeks after a cement train was derailed at Petteril Bridge Junction, where the Settle and Carlisle line leaves the route towards Hexham and Newcastle.
The derailment was destructive. Several wagons left the track and came to rest on the embankment, and at least one landed in the River Petteril, according to Network Rail, which also said no-one was injured.
Network Rail engineers and five RAIB inspectors have gone to the site since the incident, which happened soon after 20.00 on Wednesday.
The infrastructure was seriously damaged, including the track, a bridge, signals and other lineside equipment. Network Rail has warned that the task of recovering the wagons and repairing the damage is expected to take ‘weeks rather than days’. Replacement buses are running between Carlisle and Haltwhistle, and Carlisle and Appleby, and Northern warned that the bus journeys will take longer. Trains on the nearby West Coast Main Line to Glasgow and Preston are not affected.
Network Rail North West route director Phil James said: ‘On the rare occasions trains leave tracks like this it can cause extensive damage and unfortunately this incident is no exception.
‘I understand this will be extremely frustrating for passengers who rely on this crucial rail link from east to west linking Carlisle and Newcastle, as well as south to Skipton. We’re working hard to keep people on the move through rail replacement buses while we work as fast as we can to restore the railway for passengers and freight.’
The Rail Accident Investigation Branch has now started the complex task of gathering evidence.
The RAIB said: ‘We are working in conjunction with other agencies to secure the vital evidence needed to help us understand what went wrong. Our inspectors are in the process of reviewing digital material from on-train data recorders, CCTV and infrastructure monitoring systems, as well as collecting physical evidence from the train and track involved.
‘In accordance with our normal processes we have started releasing parts of the train. We will continue to release parts of the train and track in stages at the earliest opportunity.’