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Saturday, 6 November, 2004, 21:46 GMT
'Several' die in train derailment


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Several people have died and scores are injured after a train hit a car on a level crossing in Berkshire, police say.

Thames Valley police say that at least nine carriages had been derailed and that a "significant" number of people are still trapped inside the wreckage.

The train, the 1735 First Great Western service from London Paddington to Plymouth, was derailed near Ufton Nervet, between Newbury and Reading.

A spokeswoman for the Royal Berkshire hospital in Reading estimated there were 130 people injured.

"There have been fatalities, exact numbers are not known at this time," a police spokeswoman said.
We came to a juddering halt and suddenly the lights went off, screaming, shouting and it went pitch black
Jonny Saunders
BBC Radio Five Live
The train was derailed at around 1815 GMT.

The train hit a car at an unmanned level crossing around 500m from the A4.

The Royal Berkshire hospital says it has received one coachload of walking wounded.

'Juddering halt'

One of the train's passengers, Jonny Saunders, who works for BBC Radio Five Live, said he and his fellow passengers were "in complete shock".

He said: "There was suddenly this extraordinary stopping sensation, as if someone had pulled the emergency cord, but it carried on and carried on.

"We came to a juddering halt and suddenly the lights went off, screaming, shouting and it went pitch black, then total chaos in the carriage for a few moments.
Our particular carriage went on to its side, about a 45 degree angle
Richard Micklewright
Passenger
"I was incredibly lucky because the carriage I was in didn't actually go over on its side, but the carriage in front of me did go over on its side and the carriage behind me went over on its side."

He said passengers were being treated in a local pub by paramedics.

Another passenger, Richard Micklewright, said it looked like there were carriages "strewn all over the place".

He said: "Our particular carriage went on to its side, about a 45 degree angle but fortunately it stopped shortly after that.

"I can tell you the carriage in front of us was upright, the one before that ended up at a right-angle to the tracks, beyond that I couldn't see clearly."

He also praised the emergency services, saying they had arrived in around 10 or 15 minutes.
Police stopping motorists near the scene of the accident
Emergency services were at the scene 'within minutes'
Nicole Target, from Berkshire Fire Service, says around 10 fire engines are trying to rescue people.

She said: "Our crews now are actually engaged in trying to free the people trapped in the wreckage and the car.

"The wreckage is considerable. Our crew has a job on its hands getting through that and getting to the people inside."

Keith Lumley, a Network Rail spokesman, said the accident happened at an automatic level crossing with half barriers on each side of the road.

First Great Western has warned of severe travel disruption due to the closed line.

People worried about friends or relatives who may have been on the train are asked to call 08458 505505