A PASSENGER train at a heritage railway had to be reversed back to a station after a fire on the track was discovered. The incident happened along the Churnet Valley Railway track, three quarters of a mile away from it's Froghall Station, at around 2.30pm on Wednesday, June 5. A gas main pipe had ruptured under the track and gas had risen to the surface which was ignited by a spark from a train passing over it – state Staffordshire Fire & Rescue Service.
A spokesman for the service said: “Three appliances from Leek and Cheadle, carrying 15 firefighters, attended Froghall Railway Station.
“The firefighters and equipment had to be transported via steam train (to the scene) because the fire was in a remote location three quarters of a mile away.
“The fire had ignited leaves and bushes on the embankment and crews worked to dampen down the area once the blaze was out to prevent it reigniting and spreading.
“Gas engineers were called to the scene but could not work on the main until the fire was extinguished.”
Station Manager Mark Walchester added: “We established a command post at Cheddleton Station where there was a diesel engine, which proved a better option for transporting personnel and equipment.
“We worked together with the gas engineers and the train operator in order to extinguish the fire.
“This was a difficult incident to deal with owing to the remote location and the continuous flow of gas through the pipe.
“We worked closely with the engineers to deal with the incident as safely and quickly as possible.
“We would like to thank staff at Cheddleton Station for supporting fire service personnel with transportation and refreshments throughout the duration of the incident.”
Gas engineers excavated the gas mains, which stopped the leak and enabled the fire to be extinguished by 10.50pm the same day.
A spokesman for Cadent Gas told the Times & Echo: “Cadent engineers were called at just after 3pm on Wednesday, June 5, to a fire on a gas pipe near the Churnet Valley Railway track in Froghall.
“The fire service put out the fire.
“Engineers worked until late at night repairing the gas pipe.
“Final checks on the repairs were completed the following day.
“Gas supplies were not affected by the incident.”
Greg Wilson, one of the directors at Churnet Valley Railway, said of the incident: “The fire was spotted as the train was coming around the corner from Froghall Station.
“The fire was around three quarters of a mile from the station.
“Our train driver spotted the fire, stopped the train and reversed it back to the station and our emergency plan took place.
“We had a mixture of staff and volunteers who helped during the incident.
“We transported our train’s passengers by road to where they needed to get to, and we transported the fire crews and gas engineers to the incident by train.
“The emergency services were on site until late at night and the gas engineers came back again the following morning.
“After the discovery of the fire, we cancelled the rest of that day’s trains.”
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