A TRAIN passenger has described the moment he 'grabbed the table in dear life' after a carriage derailed in south Cumbria.

The 5.18am Northern service from Preston to Barrow derailed as it was approaching Grange station at around 6am on Friday.

A void in the ground near where the train came off the track has been described by one of the passengers on the train and local residents as a 'sinkhole.' 

One passenger, who did not want to be named, described being on the train. 

He said: "I was sat on the left hand side of the train. There was just me sat where I was. All of a sudden we just heard this big bang, it was running on the gravel, veering off to the left. Panic set in. The train leaned to the left as if it was going over. I just grabbed the table in dear life. At last, it came to a standstill." 

All four passengers and four crew members were evacuated safely off the train but retrieving Northern's Dene Victrix and fixing the line has been an extensive project for Network Rail engineers - with no expectation of the line reopening before April 8. 

The Mail: Network Rail engineers around the site of the derailment last weekNetwork Rail engineers around the site of the derailment last week (Image: Network Rail)

After an initial investigation from the Rail Accident Investigation Branch (RAIB), a crane arrived on site at around 1.30pm on Monday.

On Tuesday Network Rail's Lancashire and Cumbria regional division said the first carriage was back on the track and the front bogie of the second had been re-railed. 

Within hours of the crash on Friday, Northern established a rail replacement bus service running from Lancaster to Barrow, stopping at all the stations on the Furness Line. 

Business owners in Grange said the bus takes longer than the train to get from Arnside given that it cannot use the viaduct. They also said the bus has to navigate narrow streets to get to the stops. 

The Mail: The crane starts the process of re-railing the train on Monday afternoonThe crane starts the process of re-railing the train on Monday afternoon (Image: Steve Paton)

Easter is traditionally a busy time for businesses in the area - a retailer in Grange said that it marks the start of summer.

Network Rail said the closure 'will not significantly affect the timetable' over the bank holiday due to pre-planned work but Grange businesses said the train was still important at this time of year.  

Dorothy Stubley is the owner of Hazelmere Café and Bakery on Station Square. She that 'of course' they are helped by the railway, both with the tourist trade and for staff commutes. 

"I'm just pleased that nobody was hurt from it," she said. "Any disruption does affect business - it's always hard to quantify."

She said people are still coming in via the bus service and that the workmen on the line have come into her café for food

Helen Dent runs the Grange Emporium on Kents Bank Road. She is also in charge of putting on a gig at Victoria Hall on April 7, which she said could be impacted by the closure of the Furness Line. 

The Mail: (Clockwise) Hazelmere Cafe and Bakery, Butterfingers, Grange Emporium(Clockwise) Hazelmere Cafe and Bakery, Butterfingers, Grange Emporium (Image: Google Maps)

She said: "I've noticed it's very quiet. When the train is so quick from Arnside and Silverdale people jump on it. That 15 minute jump becomes an hour and a half of your life." Ms Dent said that disruption on the A590 and the closure of the Furness Line has created 'double trouble' for Grange. 

The owner of Main Street café Butterfingers Cathy Taylor offered a different view saying that 'we have never been as busy.' She said: "We do have quite a local following - Grange does seem to be quite busy. I can't say it does affect it for us."

According to Network Rail, once the RAIB inspectors left, the engineers will need repair to the ground, installing new ballast and laying fresh track over the affected area. 

Chris Pye, a local boss from Network Rail, said: "On the rare occasions trains leave tracks like this it can cause extensive damage and unfortunately this incident is no exception. The additional problem with the ground conditions means this is an especially complicated recovery process."