Trains investigation may take a year

THE SUSPECTED cause of a train derailment near Harborough is being kept secret by those investigating the incident.

Rail company East Midlands Trains and Government body the Rail Accident Investigation Branch both yesterday (Wednesday) refused to give details on how the St Pancras to Leicester train service was derailed near East Langton at about 5.30pm on Saturday.

A "wheel failure" has been given as a reason for a middle carriage leaving the track – an axle underneath the carriage is thought to have broken, buckling two wheels and puncturing the fuel tank – but both bodies refused to say how or why the wheel "failed". A full probe by the RAIB is to be carried out and its report could take more than a year to complete.

The Mail can also reveal for the first time the cost of the damage. A spokesman for rail infrastructure company Network Rail, which carried out repairs to about 1,100 damaged sleepers along the railway line over more than three miles of track, said the repairs will cost about 400,000.

About 200 people had to be evacuated after the train ground to a halt, and services from Harborough station did not resume until Wednesday morning while extensive repairs were carried out. Nobody was injured.

East Midlands Trains issued a statement on Tuesday to reassure its passengers over rail safety.

Managing director Tim Shoveller said: "Along with train manufacturer Bombardier, we are in the process of carrying out a thorough investigation into the cause of the incident and we are also co-operating fully with the independent work of the RAIB. The safety of our passengers and staff is our absolute priority. While our investigations into the incident are ongoing, we have carried out extensive, precautionary safety checks on the rest of our Meridian fleet and no faults of a similar nature have been identified.

"We apologise to those passengers who have been inconvenienced as a result of our reduced timetable."

A spokesman for RAIB told the Mail yesterday it would not be releasing preliminary reasons for the derailment because that would "pre-empt the inquiry".

East Midlands Trains said it was not its policy to release early findings until a full report is completed.

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TRAINS are back running to and from Harborough railway station today after the train derailment on Saturday.

The broken down London to Sheffield train started leaking oil and diesel fuel at about 5.30pm on Saturday and was unable to reach a station.

The clean-up operation at site finished in tiem to get trains back runing this morning (Wednesday).

Experts from the Rail Accident Investigation Branch are set to make a decision on whether to luanch a full inquiry into the incident.

East Midlands Trains is saying the derailment was caused by a "wheel failure" but the reasons behind why this was able to happen remain a mystery.

Rail-users were warned yesterday (Monday) that services from Harborough railway station will not be up and running until Wednesday morning, following the train derailment incident near KIbworth over the weekend.

Buses have been laid on to Leicester and Kettering.

Monday afternoon update:

A spokesman for Network Rail, the company responsible for train infrasctruture, told the Mail services will not be back to normal northbound or southbound from harborough until Wednesday morning.

He also revealed:

*Between 1,000-1,100 sleepers along the track were damaged in the incident.

*About three-and-a half-miles of track was damaged.

*The incident is being now investigated by the Rail Accident Investigation Branch, part of the Department for Transport.

*The delay in removing the stricken train from the line was due to the complexities of the investigation into the incident.

*The damaged train carriage had to be craned off the track, and replacement wheels attached before the carriage was lowered back into place.

It also emerged this morning that a startled van driver saw his windscreen smashed by falling debris, while he drove under the railway bridge at the B6047 in Kibworth.

Harborough police said they received a call about the motorist's plight on Saturday.

It ground to a halt in East Langton, near Kibworth and up to 200 passengers had to be transferred to another train.

Police and firefighters helped passengers climb down onto the tracks and switch to another train. Fire crews also dealt with the leak.

Nobody was reported to have been injured.

By 4pm yesterday (Sunday) a stationary train could still be seen on the track near to Kibworth Business Park.

A statement from East Midlands Trains said: "During this transfer, the safety of our passengers was our top priority, and the fire brigade assisted to ensure that all passengers were transferred safely."

Emergency staff remained at the scene for nearly three hours and other train services were diverted, adding about 45 minutes onto journeys.

*Were you a passenger on the train or did you witness what happened? Phone the newsdesk on 01858 436004 or email