Co Derry derailment under investigation

 

Investigators are today looking into a train derailment at a seaside area in Co Derry in which several people were injured.

Three carriages of the Derry to Belfast service derailed after colliding with a boulder that had plummeted down a cliff on to the track at Castlerock strand yesterday.

Eight people were taken to hospital following the crash which left one coach embedded in the beach and the others perched precariously on the line.

The driver was the most seriously hurt, suffering a broken leg and rib injuries.

But as rail operator Translink launched an investigation, the firm's head of marketing, Mr Ciaran Rogan, said: "It's miraculous there weren't multiple fatalities."

The train came off the line as it passed the bottom of a cliff face just yards from a bridge used by the public to get to the beach.

A huge rock had hurtled down in a landslide and bounced across two roads before ending up on the track, Mr Rogan said. "We are keen to talk to the landowner from where it appeared to check what sort of maintenance was in place."

A total of 21 people were on board the 12.50 p.m. service when it derailed. Seven passengers were taken to hospital, two suffering from heart problems, while nine were treated at the scene.

One police officer at the site said: "It's very lucky no one was killed, it looks like quite a horrendous crash scene."

It is expected to be several days before the carriages can be moved and the badly damaged line reopened.

SDLP Assembly member Mr John Dallat urged the Regional Development Minister Mr Peter Robinson to commit resources to renovate the track after visiting the scene.

"While weather will be blamed there are serious issues relating to health and safety which an inquiry must address," he said.

"I have been campaigning for the upgrading of this line for many years which was neglected under direct rule."