Hundreds evacuated from Petersfield train over suspected fire
HUNDREDS of railways passengers have been evacuated from a train after a suspected fire gripped one of the coaches.
Scores of people from across the Portsmouth area have been left stranded after ‘thick acrid smoke’ filled one of the carriages of the London Waterloo-bound service.
The smoke was reported shortly after the train departed Havant at 10.34am.
The Havant to Haslemere service was stopped at Petersfield while guards ordered passengers to evacuate and step away from the South Western Railway service.
More than a dozen firefighters arrived at Petersfield from stations in Horndean, Havant, Liphook and Petersfield.
Meanwhile, the train has been left stuck on the platform, causing chaos for commuters heading to London.
Paul Fouch, of Havant, was on the train and in the coach where the smoke erupted.
Speaking to The News moments after being evacuated, the 57-year-old said: ‘We could smell a real acrid smell of smoke, like plastic melting. Then a blueish haze started filling the carriage.
‘Train guards soon came along and turfed everyone out. But it was all very calm.’
Naomi Harris, 27, of Southsea was on her way to London. She added: ‘Everyone realised very quickly that we had to get out. There was a fog on the train. It smelt of burning rubber.’
The fire is reported to have started in coach five, said passengers.
The News’s defence correspondent, Tom Cotterill was among those evacuated from the train.
He said: ‘I felt odd when I got on the train - it was unusually warm, like the central heating had been turned up to the max. It was pretty uncomfortable.’
Passengers have praised the actions of the train guards, who were quick to respond to the emergency.
One woman said: ‘Thank god they were on the train. Can you imagine what it would have been like without them?’
The smoke was caused by 'an electrical issue’, according to a spokesman from South Western Railway.
He said: 'Following reports of smoke on-board a train due to an electrical issue, emergency services were called as a precautionary measure.
‘All passengers alighted safely at Petersfield station and our maintenance team will investigate the cause of the issue.’
It’s not known how long the service will be disrupted.
Taxis are being arranged to transport stranded passengers.