Councillor evacuated from train after being stuck for 13 hours
A Sheffield councillor was stranded on a flood-hit train for 13 hours before being evacuated by firefighters.
Coun Francyne Johnson, who was recently elected as a Labour councillor in Stocksbridge, was among 400 people stuck when the train was trapped in a landslip and serious flooding.
Network Rail and the fire service had to construct a path through rubble and flood water to help passengers off during a two-hour evacuation.
Francyne has criticised both Network Rail and East Midland Trains, although both companies have apologised and defended their handling of the situation.
Francyne had caught a Sheffield to St Pancras train last Thursday but there was a trespasser on the line and the train was diverted on to a track which does not normally carry mainline intercity services.
The train then ran into rubble which had been washed onto the tracks by the very wet weather. Arrangements were made to transfer the passengers to a second service which was going to Sheffield. However, once they had transferred, this second train was stopped by floodwater.
An evacuation eventually started at 9.45pm and took around two hours.
Francyne said: “All this time we still had to pay for drinks and food, some bottles of water were given out but some people had babies, some were passing out and others had health conditions with no access to their medications.
“I was starting to urge people to break the emergency glass because I wanted to force them to evacuate us from the train but eventually we heard sirens and a huge emergency response got underway.
“Massive thanks to all the emergency services, police, paramedics and firefighters – they were all amazing.
“Firefighters put wooden ladders by the train doors to help people out and we were taken through fields lit by the emergency services.
“We trudged through muddy fields to fire engines and buses waiting to take us to Kettering station. There was a relief effort here, giving out drinks and snacks.
“We were put on a replacement train to London but then we got stuck at Luton for another hour as a passenger had a medical condition – unsurprising as people had been without proper food and medications for 12 hours. Thirteen hours after starting my journey I finally arrived at St Pancras.”
East Midlands Trains apologised for the lengthy delay. A spokesman said: “All customers were safely evacuated from the site of the flooding and transferred by road and rail to their destinations.
“Our staff assisted in every way possible, including arranging hotel rooms for any customers who could not reach their final destination.
“We would like to thank our passengers for their patience and understanding during what was a very challenging situation for everyone involved.
“The train was at a standstill in a very difficult location which meant that Network Rail and the fire service had to construct a path through rubble and flooding to ensure we could get customers off safely.
“While this was done as quickly as possible, it added to the length of the rescue effort. We are very grateful to our team for their hard work throughout the night and to Network Rail, British Transport Police and the emergency services for their efforts in dealing with this incident.”
Network Rail also apologised. A spokesman said: “We’re very sorry some East Midlands Trains passengers were stranded on trains for hours. We would like to thank them for their patience while we worked with EMT and the emergency services to get them off the train safely.
“Our engineers were on site working to clear about 40 tonnes of material on the tracks and understand what happened.”