Suspected arsonist devastates historic railway carriage

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Volunteers say they feel disgusted that a suspected arsonist torched a historic carriage at Chinnor and Princes Risborough Railway.

Bosses says it was lucky that the fire occurred in a carriage which was awaiting restoration on a side line away from the station - allowing the railway to continue running as normal.

More than 45 firefighters from eight fire stations were called to tackle the blaze, which broke out shortly after 2am on Thursday morning.

Incident commander Marcus Reay said: “The teamwork and communication between Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire fire crews meant that the fire was prevented from spreading and causing further fires.”

The burnt out carriage was a 1930s London Midland Scottish Railway observation coach.

It is unusual because it had open compartments, which were uncommon at the time. It also had a big window at both ends so senior engineers could watch what was happening on the track. There are only a few of the carriages left in existence.

The three and a half mile heritage railway runs from Chinnor to just outside Princes Risborough – although bosses are working with Network Rail to see if it can be extended into Princes Risborough railway station.

The line carries between 12,000 and 15,000 passengers each year.

Roger Fagg, chairman of Chinnor and Princes Risborough Railway since 2006, said: “It is quite upsetting. We have had vandals at the railway before, but nothing in recent years.

“It is something that was distinctive and has gone forever as it can never be restored now and there were people that wanted to restore it.

“We really feel disgusted that anyone, if it was arson, would think this is a sensible thing to do.

“Members are asking why would anyone want to do this, bearing in mind the railway is run by volunteers and we give our time freely.

“It is something that we love doing and then someone comes along and starts at fire.

“It is difficult to comprehend why anyone would want to do this.”

PC Martin Davis, of 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.”

If you can help, call PC Davis via the 24-hour Thames Valley Police Enquiry Centre on 101 or speak to Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111 or via For more details visit www.crimestoppers-uk.org