India train crash woman died on ‘once-in-a-lifetime holiday’

A British great-grandmother who died in a train crash in north India was on a “once-in-a-lifetime holiday”, her family said. Joan Nichols, 71, and Loraine Toner, believed to be 60, were both killed in the accident. Mrs Nichols’s husband, John, 72, from South Shields, was also injured and has been released from hospital, it has been reported.

Their two daughters and son are said to be travelling to India. Mrs Nichols’s niece, Andrea Davison, told the BBC she was grandmother to five children and great-grandmother to two children. She was also a volunteer for the Samaritans.

The train was travelling from Kalka to the Indian Himalayan town of Shimla when it came off the tracks at around 1pm local time on Saturday. Passengers were travelling on a four-carriage tourist service chartered by Great Rail Journeys. Chief executive officer Peter Liney said 36 passengers and one tour manager were on the train.

Three other victims are being treated at a local hospital with non life-threatening injuries, he added.

“The remaining passengers are safe in the hotel in Chandigarh,” Mr Liney said. The team will “offer any support and help necessary to those passengers who are there”, he continued.

“We are working with the FCO to assist their relatives in travelling to India as soon as possible.”

Representatives from the York-based travel company are at the scene along with senior staff and qualified counsellors. The tour, India’s Golden Triangle, left for India on September 10 and was due to finish on September 22.

Foreign Office minister for Asia Hugo Swire said he was “deeply saddened”.

“My thoughts are with their family and friends at this difficult time,” he added.

The cause of the derailment is under investigation.

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