A GALASHIELS couple who survived a railway accident in India nearly two years ago say their “thoughts and prayers” are with the families of two women who died in the crash.

Ian and Helen Calder, who run the Salmon Inn, escaped with minor physical injuries when their carriage on the narrow-gauge Kalka-Shimla railway in the foothills of the Himalayas derailed in September, 2015.

The accident, which claimed the lives of two of their fellow passengers – Scots-born Loraine Tonner, 55, from Sheffield and Joan Nichols, 71, from South Shields - occurred on the second day of a 13-day tour organised by York-based Great Rail Journeys (GRF).

Evidence from the Calders was submitted, along with testimonies from other passengers, to a Coroner’s inquest into the deaths, held in Sheffield earlier this month.

Mr Calder told the hearing he had been concerned about the speed of the chartered train, which was travelling at 25mph on a section of track which had a speed limit of 15mph.

“The train continued to gather speed as we got to the corner,” he said. “We heard a screeching noise and the train derailed.”

The inquest was told that both Miss Toner, originally from Glasgow, and Mrs Payne had died at the scene after being catapulted out of the carriage.

The Coroner concluded that both women had died when the train exceeded the permitted speed limit and returned a narrative verdict.

Mrs Calder said the inquest had “brought back very sad memories”.

“Our thoughts and prayers are with Loraine and Joan’s families,” she said.

Since the Shimla incident, there have been 14 major accidents on the Indian railway network, most recently last Saturday when 23 people were killed and 70 injured following a derailment in Uttar Pradesh.

“We used that main line before boarding the Shimla train, so it was a difficult week for us,” said Mrs Calder. “The news and pictures of that terrible accident last weekend was a trigger moment and upset me and Ian greatly.

“It leads us to believe that no lessons have been learned.”