Great Western Railway and South Western Railway DMUs collided just outside Fisherton Tunnel, near Salisbury, on the evening of Sunday 31 October, forcing the closure of the line. Fortunately there were no fatalities, although a small number of people were taken to hospital following the incident.
The collision occurred at around 18.45 and involved GWR’s 17.08 Portsmouth Harbour to Bristol Temple Meads and SWR’s 17.20 London Waterloo to Honiton. British Transport Police said a major incident had been declared with a large scale, multi-agency response working alongside colleagues from Wiltshire Police. A casualty centre was set up at a nearby church, and by 21.08 BTP confirmed there had been no fatailities. ‘Most of these [injured] people are walking wounded, however a small number, including the driver, have been taken to hospital where their injuries are being assessed’ the force reported.
The Rail Accident Investigation Branch confirmed it was deploying investigators to the site, while the Office of Rail and Road said it was supporting Network Rail, train operators, RAIB and BTP and liaising with the emergency services.
The incident came at the end of a challenging day for the railway, with weather-related disruption on the West and East Coast main lines and overhead wire damage on the Midland main line. In a statement on the morning of 1 November, Martin Frobisher, Network Rail’s Safety and Engineering Director, said: ‘Passengers had a rough day yesterday for which we are truly sorry. Our engineering teams have battled through the night to repair the storm damage, all of which has been successfully completed and services have resumed this morning out of London Euston and London King’s Cross.’
Mr Frobisher added that the line through Salisbury remained closed as investigations continued into the collision. Both SWR and GWR reported that disruption was expected until the end of Thursday 4 November while the line remained closed. GWR’s Portsmouth to Cardiff services were operating as Portsmouth to Romsey and Salisbury to Cardiff portions, while SWR reported line closures between Salisbury and Andover and between Salisbury and Romsey, with a two-hourly Exeter St David’s to Gillingham service operating on the West of England line.