An unknown number of people have been seriously injured after a train derailed in north-east Scotland on Wednesday following heavy rain and flooding in the area.
Scottish first minister Nicola Sturgeon said that a major incident had been declared at the scene of the derailment near Stonehaven in Aberdeenshire. “Although details are still emerging, I am afraid to say there are early reports of serious injuries,” she told the Scottish parliament.
Police said the crash happened around 9.40am and pictures from the scene of the crash showed smoke billowing into the air. Network Rail had earlier warned of landslides in the area where the derailment happened and said services had been unable to operate.
The TSSA union said the train involved was the 06.38am ScotRail service travelling between Aberdeen and Glasgow Queen Street, a long-distance service running through the spine of Scotland.
Boris Johnson, UK prime minister, tweeted that he was “saddened to learn of the very serious incident in Aberdeenshire and my thoughts are with all of those affected”.
Network Rail, the state-owned operator of the UK’s rail network, said it was “too early to confirm the exact nature and severity of the incident and more details will be made available once known”. ScotRail said it was also assisting emergency services.
It was unclear if anyone had been killed or how many people were onboard. The last passenger fatality on the UK railways was in February 2007, when a Virgin West Coast train travelling from London Euston to Glasgow derailed near Grayrigg in Cumbria at 95mph, killing one passenger.
The UK’s railway network is made up of a patchwork of private operators, although they have been effectively renationalised during the coronavirus pandemic, and various regulatory bodies responsible for rail safety.
The Office of Rail and Road, the independent railway health and safety regulator, said it would send one of its inspectors to Aberdeenshire.
“We will work with the Rail Accident Investigation Branch, British Transport Police and the emergency services to investigate the full circumstances of what has happened,” the ORR said.
Network Rail said this morning that landslides had blocked the line south from the north eastern city of Aberdeen to Dundee.
Philip Haigh, a freelance railway writer and former deputy editor at Rail magazine, reported the train that derailed was the southbound service from Aberdeen to Glasgow. It was returning north after having encountered a landslip but subsequently hit a second landslip and derailed.