Arson Attack

Published on 21st September 2012

Arson attack on Oxfordshire Railway creates financial headache for volunteer run preserved railway.

Oxfordshire - Suspects arrested and charges following historic carriage destroyed by fire at the Chinnor & Princes Risborough Railway.

The 100% volunteer run Chinnor & Princes Risborough Railway was the subject of an arson attack when a London Midland and Scottish Railway Observation Saloon was destroyed.

This possibly released asbestos or other chemical hazards into the immediate surrounding area requiring a specialised asbestos clearance team to attend. Their work was completed on September 2 and the area declared safe again. One carriage has been boarded up and had warning stickers attached all over the coach body warning people off because of potential contamination.

Orange fencing had been put round the affected area, now removed following the clean-up. The LMS Saloon is potentially a dangerous wreck with only charred remnants of the wooden floor left and some parts of remaining frame woodwork severely burnt.

What is left of the metal parts of the coach body in the form of various bits of metal sheet have been cleaned up and are stored on the side of the line.

Asbestos Hazard

The attack possibly released asbestos into the immediate surrounding area requiring a specialised asbestos clearance team to attend. Their work was completed on September 2 and the area declared safe again. One carriage has been boarded up and had warning stickers attached all over the coach body warning people off because of remaining potential contamination.

What happens next will be the subject of a decision to be made by the railway but it is likely to face a bill of several thousands of pounds to carry out a full clean, the excess on the insurance policy.

Chairman’s Thanks

Roger Fagg, the railway’s chairman has thanked a member who has made a donation to cover this cost but other costs have to be met, such as the cost of the sealing up the other carriage as this is not covered by insurance.

Witnesses required

Thames Valley Police is appealing for witnesses following a suspected arson at a privately-run railway station in Chinnor. The incident occurred at about 2am on July 27 when a Thames Valley Police helicopter observed a fire near a private railway station belonging to the Chinnor and Princes Risborough Railway Association, which is a registered charity.

Police officers and the fire service attended and dealt with the incident which destroyed an historic carriage which was on railway sidings some distance away from the station. An investigation was immediately launched and Thames Valley officers are working closely with the charity to keep them fully informed.

They said:

Investigating officer PC Martin Davis, of nearby Thame police station, is appealing for witnesses to come forward. He said: “This railway is run entirely by volunteers so this incident has caused a great deal of upset.

“We are currently treating the incident as arson and would like to appeal to anyone who saw people acting suspiciously in the area of the railway station in the early hours of this morning, to come forward. I would also like to speak to anyone who has any further information which could assist our inquiry.”

Emergency services attend the railway

After the fire was discovered in the early hours of July 27, there was a big response by the emergency services (8+ vehicles plus helicopter). The wreck was declared a no-go area because of chemical risks in the dust, with a licensed contractor brought in to clear it up.

The Volunteers said:

Roger Fagg, the Chairman has thanked a member who has made a donation to cover this cost but other costs have to be met, such as the cost of the sealing up the other carriage as this is not covered by insurance.

Please Call:

If you can help, please call PC Davis via the 24-hour Thames Valley Police Enquiry Centre on 101.

If you don't want to speak directly to the police you can contact the independent charity Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111 or online at crimestoppers-uk.org. No personal details are taken, information is not traced or recorded and you will not go to court.

Suspects arrested a week later

Two teenagers were arrested on August 2nd following a conversation overheard in the village by a volunteer. The two 16-year-old boys were arrested on suspicion of arson and they have been released on police bail.

Normal Operations continue

The railway’s operations were not affected by the fire as it took place over half a kilometre away from the passenger line.

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