THIS is the severed gas main that caused Portsmouth’s train system to go into meltdown and forced residents to flee their homes.
The 20inch live gas pipe passes through a building site on Tangier Road, Copnor – directly next to the railway line.
While trying to move a mains water pipe that also passes through the site, workers hit the gas pipe, severely damaging it.
As reported by The News, engineers from Southern Gas Networks (SGN) were called in to fix the leak at 4.20pm on Friday, and residents were asked by police to evacuate their properties with some not able to go back for 20 hours.
Trains were also stopped from passing through, causing severe disruption to rush-hour commuters.
Paul Gonzalez, manager at SGN, said: ‘The damage was so bad that we had to get specialist flow stopping teams in to carry out the repairs.
‘We had to cap the mains at either end of the leak and put a temporary fixture on it, but we’ll need to permanently secure it and reconnect the main soon.
‘One of our biggest concerns was the proximity to the railway line. We were worried about using electric so advised train companies to only run diesel trains.’
Trains were disrupted until midday on Saturday, when services returned to normal.
Despite being forced to leave their homes for more than 20 hours, residents have praised how the situation was handled.
James Pattie, 45, and Craig Gregory, 38, were put up in a bed and breakfast by Portsmouth City Council.
Mr Pattie said: ‘The council workers that were looking after us didn’t know very much about the situation, but as soon as they found anything out they told us straight away. And all these pizzas kept turning up for us and we didn’t know where they’d come from.’
Neighbour Alex Schofield, 30, who spent the night with his partner at her parent’s home, added: ‘We phoned Southern Gas straight away and they were really helpful.
‘They told us it could be up to 48 hours before we could come back so we just had to wait. It was really worrying at first, but we’re really happy to be back home now.’