UPDATE: Passengers stranded in Billingshurst

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PASSENGERS were stranded in Billingshurst for more than two hours after their train was ‘badly smashed up’ by a fallen tree.

Carriages reportedly ‘bounced around’ after this huge tree came crashing down just before 9am this morning.

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Phil Shelley told the County Times he was in the front carriage when it was struck as it travelled from Pulborough.

“First thing we knew, the train had obviously been hit, bounced around, lots of crashing noises, lots of sparks up the side,” he said, “when the train had stopped the conductor went straight into the driver cab, he was fine, but shaken up.

“Basically a large tree fell on the tracks right in front of the train, badly smashed up the train, the driver stopped the train as quickly as he could.”

The train wheels were buckled and the track was badly damaged.

No-one is reported to have suffered any injuries.

After two and a half hours Southern Rail sent a rescue train from Billingshurst which took the trapped passengers back down the Arun Valley.

Emergency buses were drafted to Pulborough for people wishing to continue their journey.

Mr Shelley added: “Great credit to the Southern staff, looked after us well, kept us informed, and the passengers were great too, no panic, no complaining, no fuss at all.”

A spokesperson for Southern Rail said: “High winds and rain continue to cause disruption across the south of England.

“A tree fell on the line in the Billingshurst area earlier this morning which closed the Arun Valley Line, but trains are now on the move again.

“Services on the line are being delayed by up to 50 minutes at present.

“Replacement buses will continue to operate until 2pm.

“We apologise for the inconvenience this is causing.”

All services in the Horsham district will suffer delays.

Were you stuck on the train? Tell us your story - contact 01403 751267 or email ollie.mcateer@sussexnewspapers.co.uk