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Last Updated: Saturday, 26 November 2005, 18:24 GMT
Landslip causes train derailment
Scene of derailment
Passengers praised staff for their handling of the situation
Nine people have been taken to hospital after a train derailed following a landslip near Inverness.

They suffered minor injuries when the Edinburgh-bound train hit debris at Moy and the front carriage left the tracks at about 0720 GMT.

Passengers described scenes of panic as the lights went out and they were thrown into the air. The injured were airlifted to hospital by the RAF.

Network Rail said a thaw following a big freeze had caused the landslip.

There were 94 people on board the 0648 GMT First ScotRail service from Inverness which came to a stop near a river.

The Edinburgh-bound train collided with debris on the line
With the bad weather we've had over the last 24 hours, we've had a landslip which has brought a lot of debris down onto the railway line
Ron McAulay
Network Rail

Northern Constabulary said the casualties had been taken to Raigmore Hospital in Inverness for treatment.

The driver, who was among the injured, was able to walk to a nearby road and raise the alarm.

The injured included a person with suspected back injuries, a pregnant woman and a mother and child, an RAF spokesman said.

The remaining passengers were walked to safety and alternative travel arrangements were made for them.

'Lot of screaming'

Passenger Sean White, from Inverness, told the BBC Scotland news website: "I was going to Edinburgh to do Christmas shopping.

"We had just stopped all of a sudden. It was horrible, scary."

Michael Nicol, 26, from Inverness, who was travelling to Edinburgh for the Scotland and All Blacks rugby match, said: "We were forced into the air and I hit my stomach against the table.

"The carriage tilted over to its right and we eventually came to a halt.

"There was a lot of screaming as people were being thrown out of their seats."

Carol Gardner, 43, from Inverness, said: "It was quite frightening. The conductor was thrown up and hit the ceiling."

Karen Kurylak, 27, from Forres, told the website she had been on her way to Edinburgh with friends.

She said: "I was in the second carriage and we felt a bump, like we had hit a deer. The lights went out and the train came to a halt."

Ms Kurylak praised train staff and emergency personnel for their handling of the situation.

She said: "The train staff did a really good job of looking after everybody.

Paying tribute to the driver she said: "He had been injured but he just wanted to make sure that we were okay."

'Broken nose'

Speaking at the scene, BBC Scotland reporter Craig Anderson said the front carriage of the train was derailed but was still upright.

He said: "All of the people have been taken off the train and nine of them have been airlifted by helicopter.

"We understand that all of the injuries are minor, the worst that we know of at this stage is the driver, who has a broken nose.

Network Rail's Director for Scotland, Ron McAulay, said: "With the bad weather we've had over the last 24 hours, we've had a landslip which has brought a lot of debris down onto the railway line.

"The train here has come along this morning and ploughed basically straight into it and derailed as a result.

Train derailment
The incident has led to the closure of the rail route

"We will investigate this incident to find out exactly what's led to the landslip. But it's a very very clear cut case of the rain, the snow melt.

"All these kind of conditions have contributed to a piece of earth basically slipping out of the embankment and coming down to the railway"

Mr McAulay said the line could be closed until possibly Monday. Lifting gear was being brought in and the derailed carriage would be decoupled from the unaffected carriages.

An examination of the track would then be carried out.

"All of that work takes a lot of time," said Mr McAulay.

"There's a lot of effort that goes into that. I would have thought that we should have the line open by Monday morning, perhaps earlier but I don't want to be too optimistic."

First ScotRail said the uninjured passengers had been taken back to Inverness and "alternative transport has been arranged to take them to their onward destinations".

See the scene of the derailment

In Pictures: Train derailment
26 Nov 05 |  In Pictures

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