A major rail route between Newcastle and Carlisle will be closed for several days after a freight train derailed.

Network Rail said carriages carrying cement came off the track near Carlisle, Cumbria shortly after 8pm on Wednesday.

This has blocked the route between Carlisle and Newcastle in both directions, affecting train operator Northern.

Read more: LIVE: North East rail disruption between Newcastle and Carlisle

It is believed seven wagons derailed during the accident, which happened where the railway crosses the River Petteril.

The Northern Echo: The train came off the rails late on Wednesday (October 19) evening.The train came off the rails late on Wednesday (October 19) evening. (Image: NETWORK RAIL)

The railway bridge, track and lineside equipment are likely to have suffered “significant damage”, according to Network Rail.

The infrastructure management company added: “The route is expected to be entirely closed to all trains for several days.”

Inspectors from the Rail Accident Investigation Branch (RAIB) will have to examine the scene before any efforts can be made to remove the train and repair the railway.

Phil James, Network Rail’s north west route director, said: “I’m extremely sorry to passengers who are facing disruption today while we deal with this incident in Carlisle.

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“Thankfully train derailments are rare and our priority now is to protect the safety of people using the railway, those living beside it and the surrounding environment while we carry out the necessary detailed investigation and complex recovery work.

“We will work around the clock will all agencies to do this and then speedily make our repairs to get the line reopened again for passengers and freight as soon as possible.

The Northern Echo: The freight train will need to be moved before services can operate again.The freight train will need to be moved before services can operate again. (Image: NETWORK RAIL)

“In the meantime, please check National Rail enquiries for the latest travel information as the scale of the damage means it will be some time before we get things back up and running as normal.”

An RAIB spokeswoman said: “RAIB has a team on site at Petteril Bridge Junction near Carlisle following a freight train derailment, which occurred last night.

“Initial reports indicate that seven wagons derailed.

“RAIB are working to gather information and evidence in coordination with other agencies.”

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