ONE man was killed and 24 people were injured last night when two

passenger trains crashed after heavy rain caused a landslip on a remote

Cumbrian line.

The collision happened at about 7pm in torrential rain and gusting

winds on the Carlisle to Settle line at Aisgill, just south of Kirkby


Railtrack said the accident involved the 1626 Carlisle to Leeds train,

which was heading south but was forced to turn back at Blea Moor, by the

Ribblehorn viaduct, because of severe flooding.

The train was heading north and was a mile north of Aisgill summit

when it struck a landslip on the track and was derailed. It was then

struck by the 1745 Carlisle to Leeds service travelling south.

The accident prompted a full-scale emergency operation and about 10

ambulances were summoned from Cumbria and Yorkshire. But most of the

injured were eventually taken by a train to hospitals in Carlisle

because of poor road conditions.

An official of Cumbria Police later said it had been confirmed that

the man who died was a British Rail employee, but not a train driver.

In addition to the death there had been the two train drivers, who

were seiously injured, and 22 ''walking wounded''.

A Fire Service spokesman said one of the train drivers was trapped in

the wreckage and had to be cut free by firefighters.

He said the crash happened a considerable distance from the road and

men and equipment had to go on foot to the scene. Mountain rescue teams

were also involved.

''Because of the remoteness of the site, the injured are being

transported by a special train sent down the line from Carlisle and

taken back to Carlisle to Cumberland Infirmary in Carlisle,'' he said.

''Most of the firefighters involved in tonight's operation have been

dealing with flooding incidents throughout the day. They will have

earned their rest tonight.''

Assistant divisional fire officer Steve Wilkes, describing the scene

which greeted his firefighting team, said: ''It was pitch black, raining

very heavily, and the ground was flooded on the fell side.

''The weather conditions were atrocious -- we struggled to get to the

incident because of the floods and there was fog on the top as well.

''The two trains were quite badly damaged and completely derailed. All

the passenger compartments had concertina'd and come off the line, and

it had obviously been a fairly heavy impact. Part of the track was

involved with a landslide.

''There were two drivers who were seriously injured. We freed one

using our cutting equipment and hydraulic gear and gave first aid.

''Mountain rescue teams were mobilised to bring the injured drivers

down the fellside as they were too seriously injured to be taken to

hospital on the special train.

''The passengers had minor injuries and most were fairly calm. One or

two were in shock and there was one with a little baby. They were

treated by paramedics at the scene.''

He said farmers loaned the rescue teams three-wheeled motor bikes with

trailers which were used to shuttle equipment up and down the fell, and

also provided refreshments for the casualties.

''Accessibility of the railway line was the major problem for

everyone, with it being on such a high fell and in such bad

conditions,'' added Mr Wilkes.

Police asked worried relatives seeking information about passengers to

contact 01768 217400.