Fatal train fire may have been suicide attempt, British police say

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Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Cquote1.svg No other person is believed to have been involved in the incident and it is not being treated as an accident. Cquote2.svg

British Transport Police

A fire on a train last night in Bedfordshire, England, may have been started deliberately in a suicide attempt. The British Transport Police has told Wikinews the incident "is not being treated as an accident". One female passenger, who is believed to have started the fire in a lavatory cubicle, was killed.

No-one else was injured in the accident, but it led to the closure of the critical West Coast Main Line after emergency services attended the scene. The train was approaching Leighton Buzzard when smoke was seen coming from the washroom. "A passenger reported the fire to a conductor," a spokesperson for London Midland said. "All the other passengers got off safely."

Witnesses said the blaze broke out on a rush hour train travelling to London from Northampton. "The smoke was so thick it got onto your chest," one 68-year-old said. "The fire, police and ambulance service were here very quickly." The fire caused severe rail disruption as the line was closed while electric cables running along the track were turned off to protect emergency workers at the site of the incident.

File photograph of a London Midland train.
Image: Hyperen.

Passengers have criticised London Midland for how they handled the incident. "People would have been more understanding if we knew how bad the fire was [and] that the power was off," one passenger, giving his name as Wai, wrote on the the social networking site Twitter. Another, Ross Lankshear, wrote: "It's very frustrating when you are waiting 1 hour then told trains are running but the staff are in the wrong place."

London Midland told Wikinews they were attempting to restore rail services on the West Coast Main Line. "We apologise to those passengers disrupted by this tragic incident," they said. "London Midland tickets were accepted by other operators and buses used as rail replacement services." They said service on the line was resumed at 7.30pm.

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This article features first-hand journalism by Wikinews members. See the collaboration page for more details.
This article features first-hand journalism by Wikinews members. See the collaboration page for more details.