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Services back to normal after Southeastern train travelling between Chilham and Wye derails after hitting cattle

By KentOnline reporter

Services are back up and running four days after a train hit cattle and derailed.

The train came off the tracks while carrying dozens of passengers on Sunday night.

The accident led to a huge operation to replace 400 yards of track.

Scroll down for video

The train derailed after hitting cattle
The train derailed after hitting cattle

Eight cows were killed in the impact, but amazingly, no people were hurt.

Network Rail said the lengthy stretch of track was damaged, together with sleepers and a small bridge.

The incident caused disruption for passengers, with rail replacement bus services running between Canterbury and Ashford.

Engineers used a crane to put the Southeastern train right on Monday night.

It has since emerged the heroic driver prevented a potential catastrophe when he jumped out of his cab and halted another train in the aftermath.

A Network Rail spokesman said: “We would like to thank passengers for their patience during this unexpected period of disruption.”

The crane was drafted in after the derailment
The crane was drafted in after the derailment

David Statham, Managing Director of Southeastern, said earlier this week: “Repairing this section of track is a huge undertaking, and engineers are working round the clock to ensure this work is carried out safely and speedily."

The train was travelling between Ashford and Canterbury West when it hit a stray herd of cows near Chilham and came off the track at about 9.30pm on Sunday.

The crash caused the train's radio system to stop working, so the quick-thinking driver jumped out of his cab to stop an approaching train.

Video: Engineers work to lift the derailed train back onto the track

Eight cows were killed in the impact - which caused the front carriage to derail - but amazingly, no people were hurt.

More than 70 passengers were led to safety and taken to Godmersham village hall while alternative transport was arranged.

A crane lifted the derailed train back onto the tracks
A crane lifted the derailed train back onto the tracks

One passenger, blogger Jonathan Calder from Market Harborough, told of the moments after the impact: "Somewhere between Wye and Chilham there was a loud bang and the train began to judder.

"It soon became obvious that the coaches (I am not sure if there was one or two of them) in front of mine had become derailed, but we came safely to a stop.

"No one was hurt. The train crew took control, the emergency services came (there was even a helicopter) and we waited.

Strops are put on the train to lift it. Picture: Paul Amos.
Strops are put on the train to lift it. Picture: Paul Amos.
The carriage being lifted back onto the tracks Picture: Paul Amos.
The carriage being lifted back onto the tracks Picture: Paul Amos.


"Eventually we all had to climb down a ladder to reach the ground, and then make our way down a muddy back and across a field to a lane.

"After a walk up the lane it was a ride in a police van (I chose the cage at the back as it was the only chance I will get to ride in one unless someone talks) to Godmersham village hall.

"There tea was provided, our details were taken and eventually a bus to Canterbury and stations further east was provided. I got back to my B&B just before one in the morning.

A picture posted on Twitter by @lordbonkers
A picture posted on Twitter by @lordbonkers

"It was all very British - no one panicked, the emergency services and railway staff were immensely impressive and it all ended with a cup of tea produced without any notice very late on a Sunday night.

"It could have been more serious if the train had gone down the bank, but it didn't and no one was hurt."

A Southeastern spokesman said at the time: "On Sunday evening on 26 July, a train travelling between Ashford and Canterbury West was involved in an incident near Chilham station where it collided with livestock that had strayed onto the railway line meaning the train became derailed.

Engineers are working to remove the train from the line
Engineers are working to remove the train from the line
The train came off the tracks
The train came off the tracks

"We would like to thank our driver who acted quickly after his train collided with the cows.

"He realised at this point his radio had stopped working so he jumped out of the cab and ran down the track to halt an approaching train.

"He was then able to contact the signaller through the radio of this train to switch off the power to the line."

Network Rail is working to remove the derailed train
Network Rail is working to remove the derailed train
The derailed train soon after the crash. Picture: Charlie Kay
The derailed train soon after the crash. Picture: Charlie Kay

"We can confirm no one was injured in this incident and all passengers on board were taken from the train to a nearby village hall where they were given refreshments and buses and taxis were arranged to take them home.

"We would like to thank the local residents of the village of Godmersham who opened up the village hall for us so late at night and helped provide warm drinks for our passengers."

Dramatic pictures posted on Twitter showed one carriage of the train leaning sharply to the left. Luckily, it did not fall on its side.

Workmen remove gravel to find the rail. Picture: Paul Amos.
Workmen remove gravel to find the rail. Picture: Paul Amos.

The spokesman continued: "Trains between Ashford and Ramsgate via Canterbury West have been suspended and replacement buses have been put on.

"The train has now been re-railed and moved from the site.

"Network Rail are now assessing the damage to the rail infrastructure and the surrounding land.

"They will then begin repairs but this could still take some time and we at present do not have a date and time of when the line will be re-opened.

"Where possible, people should travel from Canterbury East where they can join a High Speed service at Faversham/Ashford at no extra cost.

"Passengers can also use tickets on reasonable London Underground routes to complete their journey."


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