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Explosion Knocks Out Rail Line in Suburban London

February 25, 1991

LONDON (AP) _ Police suspect the IRA of setting off a bomb this morning that knocked out part of a high-speed train track and disrupted rail traffic north of London.

No one was injured in the 6:25 a.m. explosion a mile south of St. Albans, said Hertfordshire police inspector Ian Noble.

Noble said the device bore ″all the hallmarks of the Provisional IRA.″ No one immediately claimed responsibility for the attack and no warning call was received, Noble said.

The bombing came a week after an Irish Republican Army bomb killed one man and injured 40 other people at London’s Victoria station.

This morning’s explosion hurled a piece of rail through a garage roof 100 yards away, damaging a car, and knocked down a 25,000-volt overhead line which powers high-speed commuter trains, police said.

All British Rail stations in London were closed most of the morning because an anonymous caller warned of a bomb. The station closings disrupted rail service that carries a half million people into the capital every day.

British Rail Network North spokesman Graham Bashford said the damaged northbound express line and the adjacent southbound express line were closed immediately after the explosion, but commuter trains continued to run on two other tracks for 80 minutes afterwards.

″We weren’t aware that it was a terrorist device to start with. A number of things happen on rails that can make a large noise,″ Bashford said.

Mike Easterbrook, a retired telephone executive who lives near the rail line, called police after he was awakened by a ″tremendous bang.″

″About a quarter of an hour later my wife Mary was looking out of an upstairs window when she noticed a hole in our garage roof,″ Easterbrook said.

Bashford said the damaged track was expected to reopen Tuesday. The two undamaged commuter lines reopened today.

Thousands of commuters have faced a week of delays and disruptions caused by train and subway station evacuations.

Since the Victoria station blast, police have reported an increase in the number of bomb hoaxes received and suspicious packages reported.

The IRA, which is fighting to end British rule in Northern Ireland, claimed responsibility for the Victoria station bombing and warned that officials should heed future warnings.

The Victoria station bombing was preceded by a telephone call and a bomb at London’s Paddington station. No one was injured when the bomb went off at Paddington station.

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