Cranes play pass the parcel with derailed train

By ADAM LAZZARIENGINEERS assigned to remove 11 derailed train carriages left hanging on a bridge over the River Great Ouse in Ely have admitted they are facing a logistical nightmare.Work started this week, but the company


ENGINEERS assigned to remove 11 derailed train carriages left hanging on a bridge over the River Great Ouse in Ely have admitted they are facing a logistical nightmare.

Work started this week, but the company heading the operation, Network Rail, admitted they have no idea how long it will take or what caused the derailment.

Local boating businesses and railway passengers have been left in limbo and there are concerns about the affect the work will have on the environment.

Network Rail spokeswoman, Kate Snowden, said: "The accident couldn't have happened in a worse place. The carriages are stuck between a river and boggy marshland and an incredibly challenging and complex operation is required to remove them."

Three cranes, weighing a combined 1,500 tonnes, will be brought in to remove the carriages. They will be positioned on a stable platform, built from stone and plastic mesh, which will be placed on the marshland. Workmen have started building a 1.3km temporary road from the A142 to allow the cranes to move in.

Most Read

Ms Snowden said: "The cranes will remove the carriages in a pass-the-parcel type way. We looked at a number of solutions and at one point considered using a helicopter, but decided that was too complicated."

She added: "The design of the platform has not been finalised, so we are not working to a time-scale, and it would be impossible to predict how long this will take, at this stage."

A freight train carrying aggregates from Mountsorrel, Leicestershire to Chelmsford derailed in the early hours of Friday, June 22, when 11 of its 37 carriages tipped to the side. Some of their contents fell into the river.

The line, which carries passenger routes from Ely to Bury St Edmunds and London, Liverpool Street, was immediately closed and One Railway has been operating a replacement bus service.

Brothers Philip and Chris Wenn fear their Ely boating business, Bridge Boatyard, could be wiped out for six months and have been trying to relocate half of their 17-strong hire fleet to a St Ives boat yard to honour holiday bookings already taken.

A stretch of river is out-of-bounds due to the danger of the overhanging train. Some riverboat owners became stranded as they were unable to return to moorings.

Ms Snowden said: "We will be talking to boat services and businesses affected to keep them updated. We are working closely with the Railway Accident Investigation Branch to discover the cause of the derailment. When we do find out, we will know if any business is entitled to compensation and we will treat each case individually."

An Environment Agency spokeswoman said: "Our main concern was with what fell into the river and we are confident there is no risk of contamination. But the river will have to be dredged before the area is re-opened for boating. We will be working closely with Network Rail throughout the operation."