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Passengers praise calm train driver
Passengers are helped off the train. Picture: Steve Ferrier, The West Australian

For Claire Lloyd it was the noise that was most terrifying.

A sudden banging on the roof of the train, the scraping sound of metal on metal and the loud bang as a window cracked above her head.

Confusion and panic followed as some people leapt from their seats, others crouched on the ground and a few sat motionless.

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When the train ground to a halt about 7.45am, the driver's voice boomed over the PA system warning of extreme danger.

"He said we had hit some powerlines and there was a possibility there was a live powerline above us," Ms Lloyd said.

"He said the train's power was out, the doors couldn't be opened, we couldn't disembark and the emergency generator would give us about 20 minutes of fan cooling before it died."

They were not comforting truths but they brought a sense of awareness and understanding to many passengers on the train.

"Those seconds when you didn't know what was happening - they were the worst, they were terrifying," Ms Lloyd said.

"The worst-case scenarios ran through your head. I thought the roof would open up and the powerlines would come down on us.

"Once we heard the driver though - he was calm and honest - it put everyone at ease a little.

"He kept us informed at regular intervals while we waited, and that really helped. There's nothing worse than being left in the dark."

City worker Fiona Metcalfe said initially she was worried someone may have jumped in front of the train.

"There was all this banging and crashing and all these cables started flicking up in the windows - you could see them banging against the sides of the train," she said.

Ms Metcalfe said many passengers shifted to the centre of the carriages.

"People were panicking and trying not to touch the metal. They were getting away from the windows because they thought they would smash," she said.

Passengers remained stranded on the train for about an hour while police and Public Transport Authority personnel assessed the safety of the train and the surrounding track.

"They came to make sure everyone was OK and that no one was trying to jump off. They were worried the line or the train would be electrified," Ms Metcalfe said.

"Their first concern was to make sure everyone was aware that it involved electricity - to be a bit careful and not try and get off the train."

About 8.45am, passengers were slowly evacuated and loaded into several Transperth buses.

Colleagues Caron Marshall and Anne Porter, who were on their way to work at Bankwest in the city, commended the train driver for his composure throughout the ordeal.

"He handled the situation really well and kept everyone calm," Ms Porter said. "He did a brilliant job and everyone is safe - that's the main thing."

While a sense of calm was eventually restored inside the stranded train, commuter chaos continued across the Clarkson line with widespread delays at several stations.

From 8am, services in both directions between Whitfords and Leederville were suspended, leaving hundreds waiting for replacement buses during peak hour.

At Stirling station, some commuters had to wait an hour before buses picked them up.

Curtin University student Julian, who wanted only his first name published, said he missed an exam. "I'd say I am about two hours late now, so I am going to miss the exam," he said.