A DERAILED train caused travel chaos in Worcestershire.

The maintenance train - which was not carrying passengers - came off the tracks at Malvern Wells at 12.25am yesterday, closing the line between Ledbury and Malvern Link.

A replacement bus services shuttled passengers between Hereford, Malvern and Worcester, while Network Rail spent the day clearing the track. At Foregate Street station in Worcester student Charlotte Coombes, of Malvern Link, was more than an hour late for college.

"It's been really disruptive," she said. "I was meant to be at college at 9.15am but I was waiting at the station for about 45 minutes before the coach turned up, then it took a long time to leave and get here."

Miss Coombes, who is studying a BTec in health studies at Worcester College of Technology, wasn't the only unhappy commuter.

Tony Madsen, of Cradley, was concerned his friend would struggle to reach London.

"She needs to get back to London and this has disrupted us. She has to get the train from Shrub Hill station instead," he said.

All services between Worcester Shrub Hill and Hereford were cancelled. Trains to London and Birmingham were, however, running as normal. A spokesman for Network Rail said it may take weeks to determine what caused the Tamper - a specialist train that packs down ballast under the tracks - to leave the line.

"Whenever we get a derailment we start investigating," he said.

"However, as this was not a major incident, it did not involve passengers and nobody was injured, it is highly unlikely that the Rail Accident Investigation Branch will get involved. It's not exactly low profile but it is not something we will do straight away." Despite his assurances that "these things happen from time to time" not everyone was convinced.

Pamela Day, who lives in Peachfield Road, Malvern Wells, watched as Network Rail moved the Tamper onto a siding.

"The unthinkable that everybody thought would never happen has," she said. "It came off right next to the Malvern Wells signal box and was in a very precarious position. It looked as though it just jumped off the track."

Mrs Day is campaigning against homes being built on land next to the stretch of line where the train derailed. Yesterday repair workers and Network Rail staff used the site to reach the derailed train.

"If a housing estate is built there, Network Rail's access will disappear," she said.

"What if there was a major incident and people were hurt?

"We can only be thankful that this time it was not a passenger train."

A spokesman for First Great Western apologised for any delays.

The line re-opened at 3pm yesterday.