“When you see a massive wall of water heading towards you while on a train you do think s**t, oh dear,”
A train passenger from Exmouth has shared video footage filmed moments before a huge wave smashed into the carriage, breaking a window.
Darryl Nicholas, of Salterton Road, last Thursday was travelling on Great Western Railway’s (GWR) 10:57 GMT service from Exmouth to Paignton, when waves smashed a window, injuring a passenger, as the train approached Dawlish.
Darryl said he saw smoke in the carriage after the windows broke, and heard passengers discussing how to escape.
The 40-year-old, who had been travelling from Exmouth to attend a meeting for work at Torbay Hospital, said he saw an injured passenger helped off the train by GWR staff, and treated by paramedics.
Darryl said: “The train trip was absolutely fine until we headed towards Dawlish area.
“It was clearly high tide and, combined with the storm, meant the waves were huge and going a long way over the sea wall.
“A minute or so before we pulled into Dawlish, I took the short video as I had never seen waves like it so close to a train.
“Then there was a huge wave that smashed into the side of the train and broke through three of the windows in the middle carriage.
“The train limped into Dawlish and then stopped. In the carriage I was in, the area near the doors started smoking like it had caught fire, or something was burning somehow.
“Luckily this stopped but some of the passengers were talking about whether we should all quickly get out the carriage.”
Darryl added: “Personally I was not scared at any point as I was mainly concerned with trying to get to my meeting and presuming it was just rough seas in the distance.
“That said, when you see a massive wall of water heading towards you while on a train you do think s**t, oh dear.”
Paramedics were called to Dawlish Railway Station at midday on January 16, and treated one patient for a minor injury.
GWR said the damaged carriage was taken out of service, and all lines were reopened.
Darryl said: “I had never been on that route with the sea so high over the sea wall and it was clearly dangerous in the Dawlish area.
“The staff did their best to let us know what was going on, and everyone was calm and in good spirits once it was clear the injured passenger was okay.
“The work they have done to rebuild the wall over the last few years has clearly helped as otherwise that type of sea would have made the track collapse into the water, but you have to think that they need to find a solution for the trains to go inland for some of that route, or else the major line into the South West is going to continually be cut off for prolonged periods.”
A British Transport Police (BTP) spokeswoman confirmed officers were called to Dawlish station at noon on January 16 following reports a wave had smashed a train window.
The BTP spokeswoman said: “One person was treated at the scene for minor injuries.”