THE driver of the South Western Railway train involved in a serious crash in Salisbury on Sunday evening did his best to avert a collision, rail accident investigators have found.

Robin Tandy, 74, from Salisbury, is being hailed as a hero for staying in his cab and trying to avert the crash as his train slid 220 metres on wet rails after he had applied the brakes.

Train operator SWR said Mr Tandy had acted in an "impeccable way in a valiant attempt to keep passengers safe".

A spokesman said that Mr Tandy, who sustained 'life-changing' injuries in the collision, was a "deeply-respected" driver with more than 50 years' experience.

Investigations so far have established that his train ran 220 metres past a red stop signal before ploughing into the side of a Great Western train at 6.46pm on Sunday.

The investigators are now focusing on what led the SWR train to slide so far after Mr Tandy had applied the service brakes and the emergency brakes.

He was driving South Western Railway's 17.20 service from London Waterloo to Honiton when the train collided with the 17.08 Great Western Railway service from Portsmouth Harbour to Bristol Temple Meads at the Fisherton Tunnel.

Up to 13 of the 92 passengers on board the two trains were taken to Salisbury District Hospital for treatment, while Mr Tandy was airlifted by air ambulance to the University Hospital in Southampton.

The Rail Accident Investigation Branches is investigating the accident with help from Network Rail, British Transport Police, SWR and GWR.

In a statement, the RAIB said: "At around 18.45 hrs on 31 October 2021, train reporting number 1L53, the 17:20 hrs South Western Railway passenger service from London Waterloo to Honiton, collided with the side of train 1F30, the 17:08 hrs Great Western Railway passenger service from Portsmouth Harbour to Bristol Temple Meads.

"The collision took place at Salisbury Tunnel Junction, which is on the immediate approach to Fisherton Tunnel, near Salisbury."

The RAIB said the GWR service should have been protected by a red light at the junction but the SWR train went past it after "low adhesion" to the rails caused it to slide even after the service and emergency brakes had been applied.

SWR said Mr Tandy had bravely stayed at the controls throughout instead of trying to save himself from injury.

SWR managing director Claire Mann said: “We are pleased their early assessment shows the SWR driver reacted correctly to the signals by braking to slow the train down.

"We believe his actions went some way to preventing a much more serious incident and we wish him a speedy recovery .

“We will continue to work closely with the relevant authorities and our industry partners on all aspects of the investigation.”

The RAIB statement added: "This junction allows the Up and Down Dean lines which lead to and from Eastleigh to merge with the Up and Down Main lines which lead to and from Basingstoke.

"At the time of the accident train 1F30 was using the junction to join the Down Main line from the Down Dean line, while train 1L53 was approaching the junction on the Down Main line from the direction of Basingstoke.

"The impact of the collision caused the front two coaches of train 1L53 and the rear two coaches of train 1F30 to derail.

"Both trains continued some distance into Fisherton tunnel following the collision, before they came to a stop.

"Thirteen passengers and one member of railway staff required treatment in hospital as a result of the accident, which also caused significant damage to the trains and railway infrastructure involved.

"RAIB’s preliminary examination has found that the movement of train 1F30 across the junction was being protected from trains approaching on the Down Main line by signal SY31, which was at danger (displaying a red aspect).

"Train 1L53 passed this signal, while it was at danger, by around 220 metres, immediately prior to the collision occurring.

"Preliminary analysis of data downloaded from the On Train Data Recorder (OTDR) fitted to train 1L53 shows that the driver initially applied service braking to slow the train on approach to the caution signal before signal SY31.

"Around 12 seconds after service braking started, the driver made an emergency brake demand. As the train approached signal SY31, and with the emergency brake still being demanded by the driver, a second emergency brake demand was made by the train protection and warning system (TPWS).

"These emergency brake demands did not prevent the train from reaching the junction, where the collision occurred.

"OTDR analysis indicates that wheel slide was present both when the driver applied service braking and after emergency braking was demanded. This was almost certainly a result of low adhesion between the train’s wheels and the rails."