Killed rail worker Gareth Delbridge ‘an absolutely fantastic guy’

Gareth DelbridgeImage copyright kenfig rugby club
Image caption Rail worker Gareth Delbridge was described as “bags of fun”

Tributes have been paid to a rail worker who died after being struck by a passenger train.

Kenfig Hill Rugby Club said Gareth Delbridge was a long-standing member and “an absolutely fantastic guy”.

Mr Delbridge, 64, from Kenfig Hill, and a 58-year-old man from North Cornelly, were hit by the Swansea to Paddington train near Margam on Wednesday.

British Transport Police (BTP) said the men may have not heard the train coming as they had ear defenders on.

A third worker was treated at the scene for shock, but was not injured.

Gary Chappell, treasurer at Kenfig Hill Rugby Club, said Mr Delbridge’s death was “more than devastating”.

“He was an absolutely fantastic guy. He always had a smile on his face,” he said.

“He always had time to say hello to you.”

He added that Mr Delbridge, who was known as “Gazza”, was an “absolute staunch” Kenfig Hill supporter and was well known at the club.

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Media captionThe train hit the men while they were on the tracks near Margam

Ray Giles, secretary of the rugby club, described Mr Delbridge as a “big family man” and “a really, really likeable lad”.

“Cheerful, never down, always bags of fun,” he added.

Mr Giles went on to say Mr Delbridge was an excellent sportsman when he was younger, and said it was “such a tragedy to lose someone so dear”.

“We were all just stunned, lost for words, and just grieving at the moment.”

Mr Delbridge and the other victim died at the scene and an investigation is under way.

British Transport Police (BTP) Supt Andy Morgan said: “Following a number of urgent inquiries into this tragic incident, it has been established that the three people were railway workers who were working on the lines at the time.

“The initial stages of the investigation suggest that the two men who died had been wearing ear defenders at the time and, tragically, could not hear the passenger train approaching.

“We have a number of officers who remain in the area and we are continuing to work alongside the Rail Accident Investigation Branch to understand the full circumstances of what happened in the moments before this incredibly sad, fatal collision.”

Image caption British Transport Police is working to establish the identity of the victims.

Bill Kelly, Network Rail’s route managing director for Wales, added: “We are fully co-operating with the British Transport Police and Rail Accident Investigation Branch.

“Our thoughts are with the families of our colleagues and our members of staff who will be affected by this tragic loss, and we will provide all the support we can.”

The deaths come just three months after the Rail Accident Investigation Branch warned there were “too many near misses in which railway workers have had to jump for their lives”.

In 2018 there was one death on the mainline railway and 6,641 injuries, of which 164 were major.

Great Western Railway (GWR) said about 180 passengers were on the train at the time of the incident and about three hours later, they were transported by buses to Port Talbot and Cardiff.

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Media captionPassengers on the train which killed two rail workers describe how events unfolded

The line reopened late on Wednesday.

In a statement, the company said everyone at GWR was “incredibly saddened” to learn two railway colleagues lost their lives when they were struck by the 09:29 service from Swansea to London Paddington.

It added it was working with the British Transport Police, the Rail Accident Investigation Branch, and Network Rail to find out how the “tragic accident” happened.

Stephen Lester, who was also on board, said: “[I] looked out of the window and saw people standing around looking at the floor.”

He said the blinds had to be pulled down as there were about 30 secondary school children from Swansea in the carriage who were due to go on a trip to London.

Image copyright Aled Llywelyn Photography
Image caption About 180 passengers were on the train at the time of the incident, Great Western Railway said

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