Three people have died including a train driver and a fourth is feared missing after a ScotRail passenger service derailed and crashed down an embankment near Aberdeen in an area hit by major flooding today.
The train came off the tracks on the line at 9.40am today close to the old Carmont railway station, near Stonehaven in Aberdeenshire, with 30 emergency vehicles and an air ambulance sent to the scene.
The Class 43 Inter7City train is said to have had six crew members and six passengers on board what was the 6.38am departure from Aberdeen to Glasgow Queen Street, which called at Stonehaven at 6.53am.
The condition of the eight people not dead or missing has not yet been revealed, but First Minister Nicola Sturgeon earlier referred to ‘reports of serious injuries’.
The train is believed to have stopped south of Carmont having seen a landslip. It is then believed to have returned north, initially on the southbound line, before crossing over to the northbound line at Carmont – and then hit a second landslip and derailed.
It comes after severe flooding in the area overnight which led to flash flooding in Aberdeen and widespread disruption across ScotRail following thunderstorms.
Network Rail tweeted a video filmed in the same area minutes after the incident at 9.49am, showing flooding on the line and saying that trains could not run.
Rail industry sources said the suspected cause was a landslip. The train involved was made up of a locomotive and four carriages. It is understood that the locomotive and three carriages derailed, and slid down the embankment.
Dramatic video footage showed smoke billowing from the area with at least seven ambulances on the scene alongside police cars and fire engines.
Based on the smoke rising from the scene, the train appears to have derailed near to a bend in the tracks close to Carmont. The portion of railway has rivers running alongside and under it in some areas.
Emergency services are using a field just north-west of the tracks to base their response. The tracks are flanked by thick vegetation, with wooded areas to the south-east.
Following the news, Network Rail chief executive Andrew Haines is cutting short a family holiday in Italy and will fly back to the UK tonight. He will visit the crash site tomorrow.
The RMT union confirmed it was now a ‘rescue operation’ and nearby hospital Aberdeen Royal Infirmary reported a major incident, while local MP Andrew Bowie said the flooding situation had been ‘really bad’ in the area.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson said today: ‘I am saddened to learn of the very serious incident in Aberdeenshire and my thoughts are with all of those affected. My thanks to the emergency services at the scene.’
The accident is the first time in more than 12 years that a passenger or member of staff has been killed in a crash – after a woman died and 89 other people were injured in a Virgin Trains derailment in Cumbria in February 2007.
It comes as homes were flooded, streets turned into rivers and properties were set on fire by lightning strikes as Britain’s heatwave was interrupted today by thunderstorms and a month’s worth of rain in just three hours.
Scotland was hit by 17,000 lightning strikes in just 12 hours, as a landslide shut a road in Fife and there was a major outage at an exchange in Edinburgh affecting 100,000 customers’ broadband on BT, EE and Plusnet.
Communities further south also face flash flooding today and tomorrow with further intense thunderstorms expected to inundate parts of Southern England with up to three inches of rain today – about a month’s average.
Fire rescue crews respond after the ScotRail train came off the tracks near Stonehaven in Aberdeenshire this afternoon
It has been claimed the Class 43 Inter7City train had three crew members and six passengers on board when it crashed today
The train was the 6.38am departure from Aberdeen to Glasgow Queen Street, which called at Stonehaven at 6.53am
The RMT union confirmed it is a ‘rescue operation’ and nearby hospital Aberdeen Royal Infirmary reported a major incident
Smoke is pictured billowing from the area after the train came off the tracks today close to the old Carmont railway station
Police officers at the scene of the major train accident near Stonehaven in Aberdeenshire this afternoon
Network Rail tweeted a video filmed in the Carmont area minutes after the derailment incident at 9.49am, showing flooding on the line and saying that trains could not run
Stonehaven is served by ScotRail trains heading north to Aberdeen and south to Edinburgh and Glasgow. It is also a calling point between Montrose and Inverurie.
Richard Clinnick, the news editor of Rail magazine, tweeted today: ‘The front power car and all four of ScotRail set HA22 went down the embankment near Stonehaven. The ScotRail IC7 set was returning north on the Down Main having encountered a landslip further south when the accident happened.
‘Incident log suggests three crew members and six passengers on board. At least one Mk 3 was on fire.’
Philip Sherratt, editor of magazine Modern Railways, said: ‘It looks like the key cause of this accident is likely to have been some kind of landslip or earthworks failure, which is probably going to be attributable to the severe weather, and that’s obviously something that the railways are going to have to deal with.
‘During the storms back in February and March, particularly in the South East of England, there were several quite severe landslips and you had routes closed for a matter of weeks requiring repair.
‘If you look back ten years that’s not something that we really saw very much so I think there has definitely been a noticeable change in the frequency of these kinds of incidents and some are easier to deal with than others.
‘When you look back at something like the Dawlish incident in 2014 when the sea wall caved in and they rebuilt the whole thing and got the railway back up and open again, Network Rail’s response to that sort of thing is usually very good. But yes we are seeing a lot more of it.’
West Aberdeenshire and Kincardine MP Andrew Bowie said the local hospital had declared a major incident, adding: ‘It’s obviously a terrible situation, a train derailment, the emergency services are on the scene.
‘I’ve already spoken to Grant Shapps, who has spoken to Network Rail and the British Transport Police who are obviously investigating and assisting. I am aware that Aberdeen Royal Infirmary has declared a major incident.’
Mr Bowie said he had been in Stonehaven surveying the flood damage earlier today. He said: ‘The situation was really bad this morning, the River Carron, the main river which flows through it, had burst its banks and the heavy rain had caused flooding in the centre of Stonehaven and lots of the side streets leading off it.
‘Luckily, the water receded incredibly quickly and the river has peaked and is going down. Obviously none of us expected there to be such a serious incident as a rail derailment at the same time, but it just goes to show how damaging the bad weather can be.’
He added: ‘I don’t think speculation is helpful at this stage. We obviously don’t know why the derailment took place, but obviously we have suffered terrible weather here.’
Speaking before First Minister’s Questions today, Ms Sturgeon said a major incident has been declared.
She said that, although ‘details are still emerging’, there are ‘early reports of serious injuries’, adding: ‘My immediate thoughts and the thoughts of those across the chamber are with all those involved.’
The Scottish Government’s resilience room was made operational, and the First Minister was due to convene a meeting this afternoon.
Scottish Conservative leader in Holyrood Ruth Davidson also expressed her party’s sympathies with those involved in the derailment. She said: ‘May I add the thoughts of my party to those already been expressed regarding the incident in Stonehaven today.
‘It is clear that this incident is serious and it will have affected a number of families across Scotland. We think of them at this time and also those emergency workers who are currently in attendance.’
Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer added: ‘My thoughts are with everyone involved in the serious incident in Aberdeenshire. Thank you to all the emergency services.’
Rescue workers at the scene of the incident in Aberdeenshire this afternoon as emergency services respond today
Emergency services attend the scene of a train derailment in Stonehaven, Aberdeenshire, this afternoon
Emergency services on the scene in Aberdeenshire this afternoon following the train derailment near Stonehaven
The air ambulance is involved in the emergency services’ response in Aberdeenshire this afternoon
Police officers near to the scene in Stonehaven, Aberdeenshire, where the train derailed at about 9.40am this morning
Emergency vehicles on the scene during the major incident involving fire and ambulance crews this afternoon
The air ambulance lands at the scene of the major train accident near Stonehaven in Aberdeenshire this afternoon
Police officers at the scene of the major train accident near Stonehaven in Aberdeenshire this afternoon
Mick Lynch, the assistant general secretary of the Rail, Maritime and Transport union said: ‘RMT is aware of the major incident at Stonehaven and our reps are liaising directly at senior level with both Scotrail and Network Rail.
Video posted to Twitter at 9.49am by Network Rail Scotland showed a landslip on the track at Carmont, believed to be close to the scene of the crash which took place at 9.40am
‘Our priority at this time is to support our members, their colleagues and their families and to do all that we can to assist the rescue operation which RMT members are currently involved in.
‘The facts behind this incident will need to be established in due course but at this stage we are focused on support and assistance and our thoughts are with all those impacted by this tragedy.’
Transport Salaried Staffs’ Association general secretary Manuel Cortes added: ‘Our thoughts are with those caught up in this derailment, their loved ones and the emergency services and our members who are now involved in a rescue operation.
‘Our union has had concerns about the amount of hours that some of our members who maintain have been doing. However, it’s far too early to speculate whether this may have been a contributing factor to this morning’s incident.’
Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said he was still waiting for a clearer picture of the ‘very, very tragic’ incident at Stonehaven.
He told the BBC: ‘My thoughts go out to the families, the friends, all those who have been involved in what’s happened today.
‘We are still waiting for a clearer picture in terms of the numbers of those involved, indeed the numbers who may have lost their lives as well.’
A Scottish Ambulance Service spokesman said: ‘We currently have multiple resources in attendance at a train derailment near Stonehaven, including six ambulances, our special operations response teams, air ambulance, patient transport vehicles and the Scotstar emergency service. More information will follow when we have it.’
The air ambulance lands at the scene of the train accident near Stonehaven in Aberdeenshire this afternoon
Emergency response teams are parked near the scene of a train crash by Stonehaven in Aberdeenshire this afternoon
A police officer walks in the area of the scene of a derailed passenger train near Stonehaven in Scotland this afternoon
A Coastguard rescue helicopter at the scene in Stonehaven, Aberdeenshire, following the derailment this afternoon
Emergency responders gather at the scene of a derailed passenger train near Stonehaven in Aberdeenshire today
Firefighters and engines at the scene of the train derailment near Stonehaven in Aberdeenshire this afternoon
Emergency vehicles respond to the incident in Aberdeenshire which happened shortly before 10am this morning
Speaking before First Minister’s Questions today, Nicola Sturgeon (pictured) said a major incident has been declared
The incident happened on the Dundee-Aberdeen line at about 10am this morning
At least seven ambulances were on the scene alongside police cars and fire engines
Rail regulator the Office of Rail and Road (ORR) sent an inspector, with a spokesman saying: ‘We’re aware of an incident involving a train derailment near Stonehaven. Emergency services are in attendance and an ORR inspector will be attending.
‘We will work with Rail Accident Investigation Branch, British Transport Police and the emergency services to investigate the full circumstances of what has happened.’
A British Transport Police spokesman said: ‘We’re currently responding to an incident on the line in Stonehaven, Aberdeenshire, where a train has derailed.
‘Officers were called to the scene at 9.43am and remain there alongside paramedics and the fire brigade.’
A Police Scotland spokesman said: ‘A report was received of a train having derailed near Stonehaven at 9.40am on Wednesday, August 12. Emergency services are currently in attendance and the incident is ongoing.’
A ScotRail spokesman said: ‘We’re assisting the emergency services with an incident near Stonehaven, and will provide more information when available.’
Flooding is pictured on a road in Stonehaven, Aberdeenshire, this morning, near to where the ScotRail train derailed
Stonehaven in Aberdeenshire was hit by major flooding today following severe thunderstorms overnight
Flooding at Stonehaven in Aberdeenshire this morning following severe thunderstorms, near where the train derailed
A flooded street in Stonehaven is pictured this morning on the same day of the train derailment nearby
A Network Rail spokesman said: ‘We are working alongside the emergency services to respond to an incident involving a train near Stonehaven.
This message was on a board at a London Underground station today in support of those affected by the incident
‘It is too early to confirm the exact nature and severity of the incident and more details will be made available once known.’
A Scottish Fire and Rescue Service spokesman said: ‘We were alerted at 9.47am on Wednesday August 12 to reports of an incident involving a train near Stonehaven, Aberdeenshire.
‘Operations Control has mobilised 12 appliances and a number of specialist resources to the scene as part of a multi-agency response. Crews remain in attendance.’
Paul Plummer, chief executive of the Rail Delivery Group, which represents the rail industry, said: ‘We are saddened to learn about the incident in Aberdeenshire today and our thoughts are with those affected.
‘While an investigation will follow, our current focus is to provide every support we can in the immediate response.’
A spokesman for the Maritime and Coastguard Agency said: ‘HM Coastguard was called at around 10.33am today to assist Police Scotland and the Scottish Ambulance Service with an incident near Stonehaven.
‘We are currently assisting as part of a multi-agency response and have sent coastguard rescue teams from Aberdeen, Stonehaven, Cruden Bay, Banff and Montrose along with a coastguard search and rescue helicopter from Prestwick.
‘Two coastal operations area commanders and four senior coastal operations officers are also at the scene. This is an ongoing incident.’
Earlier, ScotRail posted a message on Twitter shortly after 6.30am warning that services across Scotland would be disrupted due to ‘extremely heavy rain flooding’. A video shared on Facebook at 7.30am showed heavy flooding in Stonehaven.