Driver injured in Salisbury tunnel smash is 74-year-old rail veteran

Driver of train left with ‘life changing’ injuries after Salisbury tunnel smash is partially retired 74-year-old rail veteran and ‘probably the most experienced in the country’ whose decades of knowledge ‘saved dozens of lives as he tried to avoid crash’

  • EXCLUSIVE: Robin Tandy, 74, averted tragedy in Sunday night’s rail collision
  • He had just six seconds to apply the emergency brakes before crash in Salisbury
  • His quick-thinking has been hailed for preventing a high number of casualties
  • He was airlifted to hospital with what police described as ‘life-changing injuries’ 

The hero train driver who averted tragedy in Sunday night’s rail collision at Salisbury is a 74-year-old veteran with years of rail driving experience, MailOnline can reveal.

Robin Tandy had just six seconds to react and apply the emergency brakes before flinging himself away from the driver’s side of his cab as his train collided with another in a tunnel.

A Great Western (GWR) service and a South Western Railway (SWR) service from London Waterloo to Honiton were travelling in the same direction and collided as their tracks merged at the tunnel entrance.

The SWR service from London Waterloo was heading for Honiton in Devon when it struck the GWR service at 6.45pm in the Fisherton Tunnel on Sunday.

Miraculously, no one was killed and Mr Tandy’s quick-thinking actions have been hailed by colleagues for preventing a high number of casualties and deaths following the accident.

But it came at a cost to him personally as he was airlifted to University Hospital Southampton with what police described as ‘life-changing’ injuries.

Hero train driver Robin Tandy (pictured), who averted tragedy in Sunday night’s rail collision at Salisbury, is a 74-year-old veteran with years of rail driving experience, MailOnline can reveal

Robin Tandy had just six seconds to react and apply the emergency brakes before flinging himself away from the driver’s side of his cab (pictured) as his train collided with another

Great Western service and a South Western Railway service from London Waterloo to Honiton were travelling in the same direction and collided as their tracks merged in the tunnel

His family tonight said they had ‘no further news’ on his condition.

Mr Tandy has worked on the railway for nearly 60-years, since he was 15-years-old, and has been a driver since the 1970s.

He had been partially retired and was on a job-share for SWR with a 66-year-old driver.

Friend and colleague for nearly 30-years, Kevin Regan, told MailOnline: ‘He’s probably the most experienced driver on the network if not the country.

‘How no passengers were killed or more seriously injured is beyond me.

‘He must have only had about six seconds to react and fling the brakes into emergency. The train was probably doing about 45-50mph as it was due to stop at Salisbury station nearby. Bear in mind the tracks were wet as well due to the heavy rainfall on Sunday.

‘His experience and knowledge – having been a driver for so long – must have been a factor.

‘He’s the hero of the hour, that’s for sure, and at a personal cost to himself because he’s suffered serious injuries. Quite how bad, we don’t yet know.

Mr Tandy (pictured) was airlifted to University Hospital Southampton following the shocking collision with what police described as ‘life-changing’ injuries. Nobody was killed in the crash

 

SWR service from London Waterloo was heading for Honiton in Devon when it struck the GWR service at 6.45pm in the Fisherton Tunnel on Sunday. Pictured: Emergency services at scene

A total of 92 passengers were on both trains when they collided in the Fisherton tunnel just outside Salisbury city centre. Pictured: Emergency services at the scene of the crash

‘The driver’s side of his cab looks completely mangled from the photographs I’ve seen so he must have flung himself onto the floor onto the other side just in the nick of time.

‘He was a great colleague to work with because he’s a really nice man. He’s very interested in ballroom dancing and always kept extremely active for his age.

‘That’s why I just hope that his injuries won’t restrict his mobility too much.’

Mr Regan, who retired in 2016, added: ‘Robin has worked on the railways since he was 15 and in those days you started off as a cleaner and worked your way up to fireman – or stoker-and second man before becoming a driver.

‘He progressed to become a driver in the 1970s and carried on working. He never fully retired and was kept on by SWR in a job share with another 66-year-old driver.’

During the ordeal, a hero train guard led 92 terrified rail passengers to safety after Sunday night’s catastrophic collision. 

In the aftermath of the collision, Martin Miller, 52, went from carriage to carriage to calm down those on board including a mother and her baby after the crash between two passenger trains.

No one was killed when the trains collided as they entered the Fisherton tunnel near Salisbury at 6.45pm on Sunday. 

Mr Miller, a veteran conductor with 16 years’ experience, was in one of the rear carriages during the crash.

Andy Cole (left) from Dorset and Wiltshire Fire and Rescue speaks near the scene of a crash involving two trains near the Fisherton Tunnel between Andover and Salisbury in Wiltshire


During the ordeal, hero train guard Martin Miller (pictured) led 92 terrified rail passengers to safety after Sunday night’s catastrophic collision 

Thirty of the passengers attended a casualty centre set up outside a nearby church while 13 more seriously injured were taken to hospital

Nobody was killed in the shocking collision, which saw fifty firefighters and other emergency services at the scene on Sunday night

He immediately contacted the control centre and went through the train reassuring passengers that they would be ok and would be able to leave when the tracks were made safe.

Speaking from his home near Andover, Hampshire, today, he modestly played down his role and said: ‘It’s not been very pleasant these last couple of days, obviously I have a lot of questions but all we can do is wait for the investigation to come up with the answers.

‘The company have been brilliant in fully supporting me. Aside from that I can’t say anything else.’

A total of 92 passengers were on both trains when they collided in the Fisherton tunnel just outside Salisbury city centre.

Thirty of them attended a casualty centre set up outside a nearby church while 13 more seriously injured were taken to hospital.

The driver of the SWR train – understood to be one of the company’s most experienced members of staff – suffered ‘life changing injuries’ according to British Transport Police and is being treated at University Hospital Southampton.

William Mills, a 29-year-old artist who was travelling from London back home to Exeter via Honiton was on board the SWR service.

Investigators at the scene of a crash involving two trains near the Fisherton Tunnel between Andover and Salisbury in Wiltshire

The SWR service, being referred to as ‘Train 2’, appears to be the most badly damaged of the two trains with carriages leaning at 45 degrees

Emergency services at the scene of a crash involving two trains near the Fisherton Tunnel between Andover and Salisbury in Wiltshire on Sunday night

Hailing Mr Miller, he said: ‘There had been a lot of delays on the service prior to the crash and he handled the situation brilliantly.

‘He was really cheerful and confidently assisted passengers personally and gave them advice on the various connections, delays and rail replacements.

‘When the crash happened he was in one of the carriages at the back of the train.

‘I spoke to someone in that carriage who said Martin really helped to keep passengers calm and stop them from panicking.

‘He was in contact with his control centre and emergency services and reassured people that they had a means of escape and would be ok.

‘I later passed him on the way up to the rendezvous point by the church and he was very visibly shaken and concerned about his colleague, the driver, as he spoke to police. He was a really nice guy and it stung to see him so broken up.’

In November 2017, Mr Miller helped Noemi Mercurelli when she unexpectedly went into labour on the SWR service between Waterloo and Farnham in Surrey.

He immediately informed SWR’s control centre and requested that an ambulance meet Noemi at the nearest station at the time, Surbiton.

Mr Miller then arranged for station staff to meet Noemi at the platform and wait with her until the ambulance arrived.

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