UPDATE: Passengers speak of moment train catches fire between Lee and Mottingham stations (From News Shopper)
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UPDATE: Passengers speak of moment train catches fire between Lee and Mottingham stations
AN INVESTIGATION is underway after 200 other passengers were forced to leave a train after it caught fire last night (June 13).
Emergency services launched a major operation to deal with the incident after the fire was reported between Lee and Mottingham stations and arrived at the scene in minutes.
It is believed the fire started after the train struck an object that appears to have been deliberately left on the track near the bridge close to the Dutch House pub, Sidcup Road, Eltham.
Passengers at the front of the train described how there was a loud bang before the lights went out at about 9.20pm and their carriage began to fill with smoke.
James Alexander was in the first carriage when he heard a thud and saw a shower of sparks coming from the left hand side of the train.
Mr Alexander said: “People jumped and slammed the windows shut, the carriage was filling with smoke, and there were a lot of flashes and electrical sounds coming from the source of the flames.”
The web developer says he got people to start moving out of the carriage and says he pulled the alarm cord to alert the driver.
Mr Alexander, 30, added: “The driver then came out of front saying that he had lost power and that we needed to move down the train but to stay on.
“The driver said that there could still be power to the lines.
“Then I noticed people had got off the train, the driver and I helped some people back on who had gone to check if the driver had been able to get out of his smoke filled cabin okay.
“As other passengers noticed that some people had got off the train everyone seemed to follow.
“I was amazed at how many people did not seem to think about the live rail and just got off.”
Charlotte Pocock was travelling in the fourth carriage of the eight carriage train and said she noticed the smell of smoke just after leaving Lee station.
The 18-year-old said: “We could see the smoke and see the fire and it was almost like we had gone through a barbecue gone wrong and with that the train stopped.
“Everyone started to panic and it wasn’t until I got off that I knew it had caught fire.
“We waited around for about 30 minutes and then the emergency services led us down to the pub.
“One of the ladies from the train gave me a lift to the hotel in Bexley where I was going and without her I don’t know what I would have done.”
She says she is now more wary of travelling on trains because of her experience last night.
“I’m very relieved that everybody got out but instead of us standing by the train I wish somebody had helped us out to get us out of danger because standing by the track isn’t very safe.
“It was a bit scary going back to where I live in Hassocks today because you do not know if it is going to happen again, the experience shook me up and scared me.
“I’m now more wary about going on trains.”
And Bob Pavey, 65, was on the train heading to his home in Sidcup, Kent with his wife and son.
He said: "As the train went over a bridge, there was suddenly a loud noise, like a bang, all the lights went out and then we could smell burning.
"The lights suddenly came back on again and we could see smoke filling the carriage.
"We were sat in the second carriage from the front so we think the smoke had drifted back from the front of the train.”
Mr Pavey, who had been in London for a birthday meal for his son, said the passengers had been told to wait at a nearby pub, The Dutch House for a replacement bus service to take them to their destinations.
The train was travelling from London Charing Cross to Gravesend in Kent on the Sidcup Line.
Train operator Southeastern said all passengers were reported clear of the train by 9.40pm and the fire was confirmed to have been put out by 9.55pm.
A London Ambulance Service spokeswoman says they helped 126 people off the train and checked them over at the scene but none of them required hospital treatment.
Anyone with any information about the incident, or those responsible, is asked to call the British Transport Police on 0800 405040, quoting incident reference 630 of 13/6/12, or to remain anonymous call Crimestoppers on 0800 555111.