Scottish freight train catches fire after derailment

Firefighters put out intense blaze on decoupled wagons transporting oil and diesel in Ayrshire

An intense fire which erupted after a freight train carrying diesel and heating oil derailed in Ayrshire earlier today has been put out by firefighters.

More than 50 fire crew were involved in controlling the fire, which broke out after five fuel wagons on a freight train were derailed soon after 6am on a bridge half a mile south of Stewarton station. The train was carrying heating oil and diesel from Grangemouth refinery to a fuel depot in Kilmarnock.

British transport police said the bridge had collapsed and that the crash had brought down a power line. Scottish Power said up to 100 homes in the Kilmaurs area of Ayrshire had lost electricity as a result.

The train's 45-year-old driver escaped unharmed. It is thought his locomotive and the first four wagons on the 10-wagon train became decoupled from the rear six wagons. Five of the loose wagons came off the track, striking a power line.

Fire crews had to wait until 10.15am when Scottish Power isolated the electricity supply to the cable serving the railway line and an overhead cable serving local communities, to make the track safe.

The crash closed the single-track line between Barrhead in East Renfrewshire and Kilmarnock and police closed surrounding roads, causing chaos during this morning's rush hour.

Network Rail stopped train services, replacing some trains with buses and rerouting the Glasgow-Carlisle service through Barassie. Police said one road would be closed for up to 21 days while the damage was repaired and the accident investigated.

Rail accident investigators are at the scene and are trying to establish what caused the derailment. It is unclear why the train separated, and it is not clear whether the bridge collapsed because of the accident or had been damaged before the derailment.

The fire, which took hold after the train derailed, sent a large black plume of smoke high into the skies over Stewarton.

Steven Boyd, a local resident who alerted the emergency services, told BBC Scotland: "It was about a quarter past six. I was lying in bed awake. I heard the normal train going past and a big rumbling and a crash and I sat up in bed, looked over straight away and a huge explosion and the flames shot maybe 80 to 100 feet in the sky and burnt really, really, really brightly.

"So I just phoned the emergency services straight away, flung some clothes on, [put on] my wellies, and [went] straight over the field to see what it was."

He saw one wagon and the railway embankment on fire, several other wagons on their side and pools of fluid over the road below. "There was a lot of smoke, a lot of flames, pretty hot," he said.

A spokesman for DB Schenker, the train's operator, said it had appeared the locomotive and front four wagons had become separated from the rear six wagons.

"The locomotive and first four wagons were fine. For some reason, the train decoupled. The remaining six wagons were involved in the incident and clearly, because the train is travelling at speed, the first four wagons and locomotive will leave the scene.

"Any reasons about why things happened, the industry won't be able to give an emerging view on that until it has had the opportunity to see the site."

Assistant Chief Officer Dave Goodhew, of Strathclyde fire and rescue, said his colleagues had done an "outstanding" job in tackling the blaze.

The Scottish Environmental Protection Agency will now establish the extent of the damage to local rivers from leaking fuel. "Once the fire was extinguished, the next task will be to investigate the environmental impact of the kerosene getting into water sources," he said.


Severin Carrell, Scotland correspondent

The GuardianTramp

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