Bo’ness train saves stranded passengers

The train was diverted on its way back home before answering a distress call
The train was diverted on its way back home before answering a distress call

Storm Desmond battered the country, leaving homes flooded, roads closed and even left people needing rescued by a vintage train.

A rogue garden shed was propelled through the air by the fearsome storm and blew down power lines leaving a major railway line without power.

This left 150 passengers on a Virgin train heading for the capital stranded on a cold Friday night on a Cross Country service from Newcastle.

The Scottish Railway Preservation Society was on hand to answer the distress call and the vintage train, with its carriages more than five decades old, and its crew of volunteers, made its way to save the stranded passengers. Earlier this month, members of the SRPS, which as well as running rail tours runs the Bo’ness and Kinneil Railway, were returning to Linlithgow following a one day rail tour to Lincoln with passengers on board when they received the mayday call from the stranded train.

The classic diesel-hauled vehicle had already been forced to divert from Berwick, return to Newcastle and make its way north via the West Coast Main line.

At this point they received a message asking if the train could pick up 150 people left at Alnmouth, just north of Newcastle.

The crew were more than happy to oblige and soon, the picked-up passengers were on board enjoying a party atmosphere on the luxury carriages.

SRPS volunteer Jim Paterson said: “A modern train could not go any further but our carriages could and its a good thing too, otherwise no one would have been able to collect the stranded people.”

The train had originally set off at 5.22am but the crew and passengers did not make it back to Linlithgow until 2.37am the following day.

Roger Haynes, from SRPS Railtours, said: “Special thanks are due to train guard Graham Scott and his colleagues at West Coast Railways for their efforts to alleviate the situation and ensure that everyone got home safely.”

Passengers were singing the praises of the rescue team.

One said: “Five star service. I would like to say a big thank you to all the Bo’ness team whose train was seconded by Cross Country rail.

“They had to ferry all the stranded and weary passengers bound for Edinburgh on a long detour around Carlisle and across the west coast to deliver us safely to Waverley.

“It added many hours to their day but everyone was helpful. Especially as they all had their working day extended without choice.”