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Train derailed by sinkhole in Cumbria leaving Northern rail line blocked

Eight people were on board the Northern train when it derailed after driving over a sinkhole beneath the tracks  (credit: Northern Rail)
Eight people were on board the Northern train when it derailed after driving over a sinkhole beneath the tracks (credit: Northern Rail)

An early morning train travelling in northwest England has derailed after a sinkhole pulled the tracks out of line, causing widespread disruption.

The 5.18am service from Preston to Barrow was carrying eight people - four passengers and four crew - when the train came off the tracks.

Operator Northern said the train had been derailed near Grange-over-Sands station in Cumbria.

Images published in the wake of the derailment showed a sinkhole directly underneath the tracks, which had caused the tracks to shift off-kilter.

A witness also described a “big cloud of smoke” at the scene as everyone was safely escorted from the train.

Chris Pye, infrastructure director for Network Rail, said: “We’re still trying to understand exactly what’s happened but what we do know, so far, is that a hole was formed in the track – or just underneath the track – in the ballast and the earth underneath.

“As a result of that, that’s fallen away. The rails on top haven’t been held properly and the train’s derailed.”

Craig Harrop, regional director for Northern, said: “Earlier this morning, a Northern train travelling towards Barrow came off the tracks near Grange-over-Sands station. There were four customers and four Northern colleagues on board. Everyone been safely escorted from the train.

“We are focusing on supporting colleagues and customers who were involved in the incident and on minimising the disruption this incident will cause to other services. We’re working closely with Network Rail and others to understand more about what happened.

“No trains are running between Barrow-in-Furness and Lancaster and there will be significant disruption to our services in this area. Customers should look on our website or speak to a member of our team for more information.”

National said: “A derailed train between Barrow-in-Furness and Lancaster means all lines are blocked. As a result, trains are unable to run between Barrow-in-Furness and Lancaster.”

They added that disruption is expected in that area until at least Monday, 25 March.

Bus replacement services that had been put on to cover the closed line have also been delayed due to a separate crash, with Northern advising nobody to travel between Lancaster and Barrow until further notice.