Eyewitness: Train journey that turned into a trial by fire and water
IT WAS just after 2pm, as we passed Oxenholme, that it began. The skies had been darkening steadily on our approach to the town, before giving way to a torrential downpour. A voice came over the tannoy and told us that there had been flooding and that there would be problems ahead.
Shortly after, we had the first of our stops. This one lasted for a while, but eventually they said that they were going to work out how to get us up the line – skilfully and quite audaciously, it turned out – we edged through the floods.
Unfortunately, having just surmounted our first obstacle, we came to a halt again, this time for two-and-a-half hours as a landslide had made the line ahead impassible.
Eventually, the staff decided they would have to take us back to Oxenholme.
We were then told instead that we would go back to Preston, where a replacement train would take us on.
Just as we were rolling into Carlisle at 9:44pm, they decided that the train would go straight on to Glasgow. Just after 10:15pm, I saw one member of staff scuttling past, looking concerned, followed by other colleagues.
Clearly something was up, but they were not going to tell us. After a while, those of us sitting in the rear carriage managed to work out that the front of the train was on fire.
We were told that we would have to get off and leave our possessions behind. This seemed a bit strange to me, and I could not get a satisfactory answer as to why we should leave all our belongings.
It was only when we got to the exit at the rear of the train that I got my answer: the staff had lashed together two short ladders to make a single, slightly shaky long one.
Our replacement train was closer to a cattle truck, completely packed.
We had to wait a further two-and-a-half hours before we moved again, at the back of 1am.
The train pulled into Central at around 2:30am, and there were taxis waiting to take everyone home – though I got my partner to pick me up – but first we all had to collect our luggage and you could see people were beginning to lose patience.
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Weather for Edinburgh
Saturday 25 May 2013
Temperature: 6 C to 17 C
Wind Speed: 13 mph
Wind direction: West
Temperature: 9 C to 16 C
Wind Speed: 14 mph
Wind direction: South west